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Statewide Planning

Statewide Water Advisory Group

In 2006, ADWR Director Herb Guenther announced formation of a Statewide Water Advisory Group (SWAG) to discuss programs needed to continue developing a reliable water supply for the future.  The Director invited about 50 citizens and government officials from all over Arizona to take part in strategic water planning for Arizona’s present and future.  Members of SWAG come from city and county government, environmental, agricultural, and resource groups.  SWAG’s purpose is to counsel ADWR regarding programs for water resources development and management necessary to provide a sustainable water supply in all parts of Arizona.  The group deliberates a variety of water issues that come up in similar circumstances in various parts of the state and sometimes come to the attention of the Legislature and Governor.  The purpose of SWAG deliberations was to generate suggestions and activities for ultimate consideration by the Legislature.


The following bills were initiated out of the SWAG process during the 2007 Legislative session

HB 2300  pdf (3.32MB) - Water district; Upper San Pedro
HB 2484  pdf (1.52MB) - Contamination; well impacts
HB 2692 pdf (2.36MB) - Water supply development revolving fund
SB 1575  pdf (4.48MB) - Water adequacy amendments


SWAG Subcommittees:

The Statewide Water Advisory Group has created two subcommittees.  Each group will address a single issue. 

The subcommittees are: Exempt Wells and Lot Splits.


Exempt Wells Subcommittee Meetings:

(To be announced)


Lot Splits Subcommittee Meetings :

(To be announced)



Past Full SWAG Meetings


In 2007 the Arizona Legislature enacted House Bill 2300 which enabled the establishment of the Upper San Pedro Water District (District).  This District if permanently created would be unique in that it is intended to be solely focused on the special water related issues, as they currently exist or may evolve over time, in a portion of the Upper San Pedro Groundwater Basin approximately equal to the Sierra Vista Subwatershed (Subwatershed). 

The goal of the District as established by the authorizing legislation is “… to maintain the aquifer and base flow conditions needed to sustain the Upper San Pedro River and to assist in meeting the water supply needs and water conservation requirements for Fort Huachuca and the communities within the District.”


Located within the District’s boundaries are the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA), the Sierra Vista metropolitan area, Huachuca City, Tombstone, part of Bisbee and Fort Huachuca.  Increasing demand for municipal and domestic water supplies over the past several years has resulted in the overdraft of the groundwater.  The overdraft of groundwater occurs when more groundwater is being pumped from the aquifer than is being naturally or artificially recharged into the aquifer.  For the better part of twenty years, concerns have been raised by the public and government officials that the increasing levels of groundwater pumping may have a detrimental impact on the surface water flows in the San Pedro River.

Scientific studies have shown that if the groundwater levels within the Subwatershed continue to decline, the flow of the San Pedro River will be disrupted and vegetation near the river will be lost.  At sometime in the future, the result from the loss of vegetation would be severe erosion and loss of habitat for hundreds of species of plants, fish and wildlife, including impacts to endangered species. 

In early July of 2005, the San Pedro River stopped flowing at the Charleston gaging station for the first time on record; a condition that persisted for 10 days. The USGS has continuously collected data from this gaging station since 1936.  The flow at the Charleston gaging station very nearly ceased again in both 2006 and 2007 (USGS) prior to the onset of the monsoon. While no analysis has been completed that can quantitatively assess the reason, or reasons, for these low flows, allowing groundwater overdraft to disrupt the flow of the San Pedro River is not an acceptable long-term alternative for the communities and Fort Huachuca since these severe environmental impacts could lead to Department of Defense mission adjustment actions that would result in unacceptable economic impacts to the region. 



 An Organizing Board has been meeting regularly since October, 2007 and is responsible for preparing four planning documents that will be necessary to advise the public about how a water district might assist the communities in recharging, reusing and obtaining water supplies to protect the aquifer and base flow of the river.  The four plans include a Comprehensive Water Resources Plan, an Organizational Plan, a Financial Plan and an Election Plan. The determination to form a district will be made by a vote of the registered voters residing within the District’s boundaries.  The Organizing Board must complete its duties by September 2012.


At the election approval of the formation of the District, the voters will elect seven people to the permanent Board of Directors.  Contingent upon a favorable vote for District formation, the newly elected Board members will serve staggered four year terms and be responsible for the administration of the District.  In order to create the staggered terms, three of the elected board members, determined by drawing lots, will serve for a two year initial term.


The Organizing Board is comprised of the following members:

  • Mike Rutherford, Chairman – President of Rutherford Industries, representing a business or professional interest
  • Holly Richter, Vice Chairman – Upper San Pedro Program. Director for the The Nature Conservancy, representing a conservation organization that is involved in the Upper San Pedro Partnership
  • Rick Coffman, Treasurer – Representing an investor owned utility
  • Steve Pauken, Secretary – City Manager for the City of Bisbee, representing a city in the district with a population of less than thirty-five thousand persons (Bisbee)
  • Mike Boardman – Representing a retired military personnel or military support organization
  • Carl Robie – Director of Water Policy for Cochise County, representing Cochise County
  • John Ladd – Representing a resource based business (agricultural and ranching)
  • Mary Ann Black – Supervisor, Education Center Director Hereford NRCD and Associate Broker of Mike Dennis Realty, representing a natural resources conservation district
  • James Herrewig – Community Development Director for the City of Sierra Vista, representing a city in the district with a population of greater than thirty-five thousand persons (Sierra Vista)


A Comprehensive Water Resources Plan is being prepared by the Organizing Board of the Upper San Pedro Water District (District) in cooperation with the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) in accordance with the statutory requirements set forth in A.R.S 48-48-6403.01.B states that the Organizing Board for the Upper San Pedro Water Resources District (District) shall prepare and provide to the public a comprehensive plan for the conservation, reuse, recharge, and augmentation of water in the District designed to achieve the goal of the District.  The plan shall include measurable objectives to be met by the District not later than ten years after the District is established.

The Comprehensive Water Resources Draft Plan is a preliminary working document that is subject to modification resulting from the public input process described in III B of this Draft Plan:

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  • Comprehensive Water Resources Draft Plan Appendix (Click here)

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The Arizona Department of Water Resources will be making a presentation on the Subflow Zone Delineation Report for the San Pedro River Watershed on October 2, 2009 at the Cochise County Foothills Complex in Sierra Vista.  The Cochise County Complex is located at 4100 E. Foothills Drive, Sierra Vista, 85635 (Northeast corner of Foothills Drive and Hwy 92).  To accommodate as many people as possible the Department will be making two presentations on October 2.  The first is scheduled to begin at 4:00 p.m. with the second one scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. 

The Subflow Zone Delineation Report for the San Pedro Watershed includes color maps of the subflow zones for the San Pedro and Babocomari Rivers, and Aravaipa Creek as determined by the Department. The report also includes a description of the Department’s analyses, together with supporting tables, figures and appendices.  The Department’s report is not a final determination of the location of the subflow zones in the San Pedro River Watershed.


Upper San Pedro Water District Map pdf  (2.3MB)

or Write:

Arizona Department of Water Resources

Information Services

P.O. Box 33589

Phoenix, AZ 85067



USPWD Board Meetings (Present and Past meetings)



The USPWD Draft Comprehensive Water Resources Plan and the USPWD Draft Organizational Plan and Financial Plan is now available for public use at the Sierra Vista Public Library.

The library is located at:

2600 E Tacoma St
Sierra Vista, AZ 85635-1352
(520) 458-4225


SWAG membership List

Straw Proposal

Director's SWAG Presentation

Update: Many comments were made regarding the Legislative Draft Bills, at this time those comments are being taken under consideration by ADWR.


WIFA Water Supply Development Revolving Fund Committee

WIFA Board Members PDF FILE

Link to WIFA rules

Location Parking Map:

ADWR Location-Parking Map



Click here to fill out the feedback form which e-mail comments on the SWAG process to ADWR