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A History of Water Management in Arizona

This comprehensive water management timeline was created and is maintained by the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR). Click on a green dot to access a specific point on the timeline.

In 1980, the ADWR was created to secure long-term dependable water supplies for Arizona's communities.


  • administers and enforces Arizona’s groundwater code, and surface water rights laws (except those related to water quality);
  • negotiates with external political entities to protect Arizona's Colorado River water supply;
  • oversees the use of surface and groundwater resources under state jurisdiction; and
  • represents Arizona in discussions of water rights with the federal government.

In addition, the department explores methods of augmenting water supplies to meet future demands, and develops policies that promote conservation and equitable distribution of water.