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

Apr 28, 2021

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.

Contractors at Ft. Tuthill work on the City of Flagstaff's first well commissioned in 12 years. It's the first of five that are designed to give the city's water supply resiliency against drought, climate change and wildfire.
Credit City of Flagstaff

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.