water plan Flagstaff gets its water from groundwater, lakes and nearby creeks. Photo by Delia Johnson/Cronkite News.

The Flagstaff City Council held a working meeting Tuesday to hear the city staff’s plan to develop alternative water supplies. Flagstaff’s current water supply, made up of a series of wells and water treatment facilities, is expected to run out by 2048.

“We only have so much water,” City Water Resources Manager Erin Young told the Council. “One of the big takeaways for the community, I think, that will come from this is an idea of a sustainable Flagstaff and how water supports a sustainable Flagstaff.”

Flagstaff currently operates a network of 23 wells within the city, and it also pumps water from the Inner Basin of the San Francisco Peaks and Upper Lake Mary.

But the water is anticipated to run out within the next 30 years, according to the city’s current water conservation plan. And with a rapidly growing population, Young said her team is operating under the expectation that the city will need a new water supply much sooner.

“We don’t want to base things on a lower starting point because then we may get ourselves in a situation where all of a sudden we need water, and we want to be ahead of the curve,” Young said.

City Water Services Director Brad Hill, who also addressed the Council, said the updated water plan is to develop more quantitative data to assess how much water is available, and when it will run out. The city plans to work with water experts and private consultants to finalize their conservation goals.

The final water conservation plan is expected to be completed by 2021.