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Flagstaff Drills First Well In 12 Years To Shore Up City Water Supplies

City of Flagstaff

The City of Flagstaff is nearing completion of a new water well to support the growing local population. It’s the first such well the city has commissioned in a dozen years and meant to shore up local supply. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The new well being drilled at Ft. Tuthill is the first of five that’ll tap the Coconino Aquifer to safeguard Flagstaff against drought, wildfire and climate change. In 2002, the Upper Lake Mary reservoir almost completely dried, causing local shortages and forcing managers to look elsewhere for city water supplies.

"Drilling this well and the next four wells provide us more redundancy and resiliency to ride out catastrophic events. So the water supply is there we just need to have the infrastructure ready to go," says Flagstaff interim Water Services Director Erin Young.

According to Young, new housing and other development is driving Flagstaff’s need for more water. But she says the city remains focused on the health of the Coconino Aquifer and the riparian areas that depend on it.

The well will be the second drilled at Ft. Tuthill and is expected to produce between 250 and 1,200 gallons a minute. Water-connection fees from developers will fund its $3 million price tag.

Most of Flagstaff’s water comes from more than 30 wells drilled since the 1950s.

Ryan Heinsius was named interim news director and managing editor in January 2024. He joined KNAU's newsroom as an executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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