Project Hourglass

John Take


Chairperson of Project Hourglass

A water augmentation initiative

The future growth of Arizona is dependent on the future of water. Arizona is currently operating with antiquated 1940’s water infrastructure. Project Hourglass is an initiative of cooperation, encouragement and support for the decision makers in the water conservation/augmentation arena in both the public and private sectors. The top of the hourglass is full of solutions waiting to trickle down to obtain the goal of “new water resources.” 


PHASE 1 – How to create better efficiency, conservation and water reuse.

Estimates reveal that about 35% of existing potable water supply is lost due to: aging infrastructure, water evaporation, and outdated municipal ordinances. There is a need to update infrastructure and ordinances, while establishing monetary values for water usage in the desert. There are many entities involved in this phase: water companies, cities, counties, businesses, mining, agriculture/farmers, scientists and consumers.

PHASE 2 – Updating infrastructure and technologies for groundwater, agriculture, capture and storage.

This phase requires substantial infrastructure updates and with the technologies already in place the goal of water-use efficiency is imminently achievable. The “yet-to-be-developed” irrigation technologies will also be much more efficient. All of Arizona water users will begin to see a price adjustment for water use. Groups are in place working on phase two’s solutions and are yielding multiple billions of investment dollars.

PHASE 3 – Finding new water and moving it through interstate and international augmentation. If Arizona chooses to grow, 1 million additional acre-feet will be assumed with an approximate 20-year build out. CABC is interested in Phase Three-the movement of water into the state via any of the five viable recommendations from CABC’s member, Stantec.

Stantec is one of the most highly qualified engineering companies with an expertise and decades of experience in evaluating and engineering water solutions in global regions similar to the arid climate of the Arizona Sonoran Desert. The company has recommended the following five water augmentation solutions for Arizona, after considering and evaluating over 80 ideas. (Stantec is a global engineering leader with 26,000 employees and 400 locations across six continents.)

Major Water Transfers in the US West

  1. SW Desalination and In-Lieu [West Vector]

            Deal with MWD – signed 2021

            Water swaps from Federal Facilities

            Rethink DCP Criteria

            San Diego Desalination

  1. River Basin Transfers from the East [East Vector]

            I-80 Pipeline Concept

            Mississippi / Missouri River transfers

  1. Direct Transfer from UT/NV/MX/Upper Basin [North Vector]

            Re-balancing Lake Powell / Lake Mead

  1. River Basin Transfers from the NW /Canada [North Vector]

            Columbia to and via CA or UT/NV

  1. International Transfers from the Sea of Cortez [South Vector]
  2. Many other concepts over past 100 years

CABC is highly interested in the discussions due to the direct investment its membership has in Arizona. Large scale water augmentation, as forward thinking as the Carl Hayden and the Central Arizona Project was, will require massive capital commitment of P3’s (public private partnerships) and institutional investment from pension and sovereign wealth funds. The hourglass has been turned over and time is of the essence for decision making, financial resourcing and implementation.

For a list of our goals and a downloadable version of this initiative, click here.