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Arizona Municipal Water Users Association

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AMWUA's members have planned, financed and implemented sophisticated management practices and projects to protect and enhance their water supplies and ensure their viability into the future. Yet, as Arizona grows, so does competition for water. Resolution of the issues now facing this arid state will require the collaborative efforts of all Arizona water-using sectors. AMWUA champions the shared vision of its members in these efforts.

Recent major issues of importance to AMWUA have included:

Reclaimed Water Issues
The strategic use of reclaimed water is a key component of Arizona's water policy. Even though Arizona has an innovative water reuse framework, the state's laws as currently written present several challenges for the state's reclaimed water users. In an effort to forward the conversation on water reuse in the state, AMWUA developed a paper highlighting important water reuse issues in Arizona. The paper, entitled Reclaimed Water: Terminology, 2025 Sunset, and Streambed "Managed" Recharge, came about as a result of discussions with several key water organizations throughout the state about promoting the continued reuse of water.

Click here to read AMWUA's paper Reclaimed Water: Terminology, 2025 Sunset, and Streambed "Managed" Recharge

Policies for Recovery Planning
The Recovery Planning process will determine how water stored underground by the Arizona Water Banking Authority (AWBA) will be "recovered" (pumped) and delivered to CAP Municipal and Industrial (M&I) subcontractors in years when there are shortages of CAP water. Because the AMWUA members are the largest M&I subcontractors, they have the biggest stake in the development of policies and plans that ensure their access to water during shortage years.

AWBA, the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, and the Arizona Department of Water Resources recently released a draft plan that discussed the future recovery of water stored by AWBA. The plan can be found here. The development of this plan was a significant step in planning for recovery of the AWBA's stored water.

Although the respective agencies have made progress in planning for recovery of the Water Bank's water, several key issues remain that create uncertainty for municipalities in their planning for inevitable shortages. AMWUA recently produced an analysis that outlines some of these key issues.

AMWUA's Water Bank Recovery Analysis can be found here.

Enhanced Aquifer Management

Underground water storage is a major water management tool used by municipal and industrial water users in the Phoenix Active Management Area (AMA) to reduce reliance on groundwater pumping. Underground storage is the act of transferring unused renewable water supplies, primarily treated effluent and Colorado River water, into the groundwater aquifers through the use of spreading basins or injection wells. The water will remain in storage until it is recovered in the future for residential, commercial, and industrial uses.

The present legal system allows water to be stored in one part of the AMA and withdrawn miles away in another part of the AMA. AMWUA believes that in too many cases, the locations where the water is stored could be too far away from where the water will be recovered in the future. This disconnect can result in draining the aquifer in the recovery area, while increasing the water in the area where it is being stored and not necessarily where it will be recovered. Therefore, AMWUA has proposed enhanced aquifer management concepts that provide more incentives to encourage underground water storage in closer hydrologic proximity to where the stored water will eventually need to be recovered.

The concepts also propose additional incentives for storing water in special areas where groundwater has been historically pumped. This pumping has significantly lowered the groundwater table in these areas. The incentives would encourage withdrawal from other locations where the groundwater table has not significantly declined.

AMWUA is currently working with the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) and other affected water users in the AMA to implement enhanced aquifer management.

The following power point presentation is a summary of the AMWUA concepts prepared by the City of Chandler, an AMWUA member city.

Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study

On December 12, 2012, the United States Bureau of Reclamation released the most comprehensive study to date on projected supply and demand imbalances of Colorado River water. The Study was completed in cooperation with the seven basin states, Native American Indian tribes, and multiple water users. It estimates that a basinwide deficit of 3.2 million acre-feet of water could be anticipated by 2060. Arizona has exemplified wise water management for over 100 years. The Salt River Project, the Central Arizona Project and the 1980 Groundwater Management Act demonstrate the many steps our state has taken to ensure reliable water supplies for its citizens, businesses and industries. Through conservation, demand management, strong policies and investments, Arizona's water use is virtually the same today as in was more than a half century ago. Working with all stakeholders, AMWUA will continue to advocate for sustainable water supplies for Arizona's future. More Information

Visit the AMWUA co-authored "Viewpoints" article in the Arizona Republic and view the infographic depicting water use stability during Arizona's growth in population and gross domestic income from 1957 - 2010.

Wheeling of Non-Project Water in the Central Arizona Project (CAP) Aqueduct
The resolution of this issue will determine how, when and under what circumstances water, other than CAP water (non-project water), may be conveyed (wheeled) through the CAP canal and related infrastructure. Wheeling will require a contract with the Bureau of Reclamation, which owns the CAP canal, and the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD), which operates the CAP.

CAWCD staff has been working with Reclamation to develop a framework for wheeling agreements and has offered a proposal for wheeling water. The proposal consists of a White Paper and several draft agreements, including a standard wheeling agreement. The proposal contemplates that CAP will make improvements to increase CAP system delivery capacity to be funded with a "system improvement fee" paid by those who sign wheeling agreements.

CAWCD plans to hold stakeholder meetings to discuss the staff proposal on the following dates: March 12, 2014, April 22, 2014, May 27, 2014, and June 17, 2014. Click here for more information.

Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (CAGRD) Plan of Operation
The Plan, which must be submitted to ADWR for approval by the end of 2014, will dictate how much water CAGRD must acquire to replenish groundwater pumped by its members and the terms under which new members may enroll in CAGRD. The amount of risk undertaken by CAGRD has long been of concern to the AMWUA Board of Directors. Click here for more information

Fourth Management Plans for the AMAs
The 1980 Groundwater Code sets the goal of safe-yield for the Phoenix Active Management Area where the AMWUA members are located. Safe-yield is a long-term balance between the amount of groundwater pumped in the AMA and the amount of recharge. To meet this goal, ADWR must develop a series of management plans, which have the force and effect of rules. ADWR is currently developing the fourth management plan, which may require municipal water providers to implement additional conservation requirements and other management efforts.

ADWR Funding
AMWUA supports a capable and effective ADWR funded by general fund appropriations. In the past, adequate funding for ADWR has been in doubt or has been borne unfairly by municipal water providers.

Enhanced Aquifer Management
Arizona law encourages the underground storage of water for use in the future. Using spreading basins and injection wells, the AMWUA cities have stored underground over 1.6 million acre-feet of excess surface water and treated wastewater. These supplies are a savings account for use when surface water is less plentiful. Others, including the Arizona Water Banking Authority, have also stored millions of acre-feet of water underground.

Unfortunately, state law does not require those who store water underground to "recover" (pump) the water from the same location. As a result, water stored by one person is not always protected from others' pumping. It is essential that these water savings accounts be available in the future. AMWUA and its members have developed proposed strategies to discourage the pumping of stored water from a different location and to encourage the storage of water where groundwater supplies are limited. These strategies are being discussed in a stakeholder process led by the Arizona Department of Water Resources. For more information, check out "Enhanced Aquifer Management Stakeholder Group at: