What’s an acre-foot?

A football field
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If you’ve ever looked at water usage reports, you might have encountered the term “acre-foot” or “acre-feet.” This unit of measurement is essential for understanding water rights and large-scale water management.

So, what exactly is an acre-foot?

Imagine a football field-sized plot of land (that’s about an acre) covered in one foot of water. That’s the volume of an acre-foot. To put it in numbers, one acre-foot equals:

  • 43,560 cubic feet
  • 325,851 gallons

Why is it important?

Acre-feet are often used to measure water storage in reservoirs, water delivery for irrigation, or the amount of water allocated under water rights agreements. Depending on usage patterns, an acre-foot of water might be enough to serve one or two single-family households for an entire year.

Water Rights and the Acre-Foot.

Water rights are a complex topic, but in essence, they are property rights that allow someone to use water from a particular source. These rights are often quantified in acre-feet, specifying the amount of water a person or entity is entitled to use.

Use Our Calculators.

Need to convert gallons to acre-feet and so on?  Use our calculators.

Let’s keep learning!

If you’re curious about water measurement and rights, here are some resources to explore:


Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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