Understanding Arizona’s Groundwater

Audubon StoryMap highlights the importance of sustaining healthy groundwater supplies and what is at stake for birds and people.

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**This blog and StoryMap were updated on April 24, 2024 **

Groundwater is a precious resource, especially in Arizona where it makes up more than 40% of the state’s water supply. It is the source of springs and wells, and used by communities, farms, and industries. Groundwater also sustains rivers, streams, and habitats that are vital for birds and other wildlife in our arid landscape.

More than 1.5 million Arizonans live in greater (rural) Arizona, where there are essentially no rules governing the use of groundwater. Because groundwater use is unrestricted outside of the state’s Active Management Areas and Irrigation Non-Expansion Areas, Rural Arizona continues to see increases in the number of wells. In many parts of the state, groundwater level declines impact nearby rivers, springs, and habitat—in addition to people’s wells.

To raise awareness of groundwater issues in Arizona, Audubon Southwest created the StoryMap website, Understanding Arizona’s Groundwater: Why Sustaining Healthy Groundwater Supplies is Critical to Birds, Habitat, and People.

In this visual StoryMap, you will:

  • Get a quick primer on groundwater
  • Gain an understanding of the importance of groundwater to birds and people
  • See stunning animations demonstrating the worrisome growth in the number of wells over time, often near rivers and streams
  • Learn how groundwater is managed (or not managed) throughout the state
  • Discover policy tools we can use to protect our groundwater supplies

Birds need water and in Arizona, that includes groundwater. Help us bring this issue to the surface. Gain a better understanding of what is at risk if we do not properly manage our groundwater resources. Then, let’s make progress on protecting our water resources into the future.

Join our Western Water Action Network to receive water news and action alerts about issues affecting birds throughout the West. You can weigh in on water management decisions that will shape the future of western water, and the birds, wildlife, and people that depend on them.