Conservation blog

Water for New Development

Sep 1, 2023 | Water Conservation Issues, Water Saving Tips


The City’s General Plan is an expression of a community’s preferred future. The Land Use element reflects the general distribution and extent of residential, business, industrial, recreation, open space, and some smaller land use categories. It also set out goals and strategies promoting in-fill development. The well-being of a community depends upon social, economic, environmental, and cultural factors. Providing water for development is a fundamental necessity for community development.

What Is an Assured Water Supply (AWS)?

Prior to 1998, all residential subdivisions of six lots or more and commercial development, such as hospitals, grocery stores, schools, and various service providers, relied on groundwater supplies. In 1998, the Prescott Active Management Area (PrAMA) was declared out of safe-yield. This is defined as achieving and maintaining a long-term balance between the annual amount of groundwater withdrawn and the annual amount of natural and artificial recharge. This declaration resulted in the AWS rules, one of which requires no newly planned subdivisions can be served groundwater. For the City to maintain is Designation of AWS, it must demonstrate that the water will be physically, continuously, and legally available for I 00 years. A Designation must be updated regularly. Since its first designation in 1999, it has been updated in 2005 and 2009. The most recent update was submitted in December 2021,and is currently under review. The City has actively managed its water resources to provide reliable supplies for decades, and will continue to do so in the future.

WaterSmart Factsheet Summary:

  • The City of Prescott follows state law; new and existing subdivisions have an Assured Water Supply [A.R.S. §5-576]
  • The City’s Decision and Order of Assured Water Supply consists of groundwater and renewable water [Decision and Order No. 86-401501]
  • For the City to approve a new subdivision, a 100-year supply must be available [PCC 7.4.8, F and G.]

Determining Water Availability for a Property

In accordance with state laws, all subdivisions in the City have an assured water supply.


In November of 1999, the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) “grandfathered” current water uses and recorded vacant subdivision lots that relied on groundwater. In addition, subdivisions that had preliminary plats approved by the City Council prior to August 21, 1998, are also allowed to use groundwater, subject to certain requirements. This water is generally referred to as the City’s “current and committed demand:”

Additional Supplies

Two primary sources of renewable supplies are available to the City: surface water and reclaimed effluent. Watson and Willow Lake reservoirs provide surface water that is recharged at the Airport Water Reclamation Facility (AWRF). Return flows of effluent from the sewer system is reclaimed and then recharged at the AWRF, or delivered to non-potable water users, such as golf courses. The City’sAWS also includes a future imported supply from the Big Chino Water Ranch. This source has yet to be connected to the City’s water infrastructure.These renewable resources are recognized and encouraged by ADWR and are predominantly used for new development.

Do Your Part

Be WaterSmart

Curious if your water conservation efforts pay off? View your eligibility for incentives and rebates below.