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Central Highlands Planning Area Cultural Water Demand - Overview and Tribal Demand

Cultural water demand in the Central Highlands Planning Area averaged approximately 83,200 AFA during the period from 2001 to 2005.  As shown in Figure 5.0-19, the agricultural demand sector was the largest use sector with approximately 37,500 acre-feet of demand, 45% of the total.  Most agricultural demand was located in the Verde River and Salt River basins.  About 62% of the agricultural demand was met by surface water diverted primarily from the Verde and Salt rivers and from Tonto Creek.  Municipal demand was the second largest water demand sector with about 33% of the total planning area demand or an annual average of 27,400 acre-feet during the period 2001-2005.   Municipal demand is primarily met by groundwater.  Industrial demand, mainly related to mining, accounted for 18,300 acre-feet, 22% of the total average demand during this period. 

Figure 5.0-19 Cultural Water Demand by Sector in the Central Highlands Planning Area 2001-2005 (in acre-feet)

Click to view Figure 5.0-19

Figure 5.0-20 Cultural Water Demand by Basin in the Central Highlands Planning Area 2001-2005 (in acre-feet)

Click to view Figure 5.0-20

Almost all the surface water diverted for industrial purposes, about 5,700 AFA during 2001-2005, was transported out of the planning area for use at the Morenci Mine in the Southeastern Arizona Planning Area.

As shown in Figure 5.0-20 basin demand varied substantially in the planning area. More than half of the water demand in the planning area was in the Verde Basin, 29% is in the Salt River Basin and the remaining basins have smaller and comparable volumes of water demand.

Several recent studies provide detailed information on irrigation water use in the Verde River Basin.  The Verde River Watershed Study Report (ADWR, 2000) contains information on water demand for most of the basin. The Yavapai County Water Advisory Committee (WAC) completed a water use study of the Big Chino Sub-basin in 2004 and participated in a USBOR study of the Verde Valley in 2003 that are useful sources of water demand information.

Tribal Water Demand

The largest Indian reservation in the planning area is the Fort Apache (White Mountain Apache Tribe), the fourth largest reservation in terms of size within Arizona.  Although the northern part of the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation is within the planning area directly south of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, almost all its population and water demand is in the Southeastern Arizona Planning Area.

Water demand on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation is associated with domestic and agricultural uses as well as a number of tribal enterprises including timber industries, a ski resort and a casino/hotel at Hon-dah.  In 2006, there were approximately 12,000 tribal members residing on the reservation with about 5,900 residents at Whiteriver, the tribal capital.  Other residents reside in smaller communities and on rural lands.  Water service is provided to an unknown number of customers by the Whiteriver Regional System.

Production from system wells has declined over the last few years, resulting in summer drinking water shortages.  The tribe plans to construct a relatively small diversion project on the North Fork of the White River in 2009 and is pursuing a long term water development project, the Miner Flat Project, through the White Mountain Apache Tribe Water Rights Quantification Act introduced in 2008 The settlement would also allocated 52,000 AFA through a combination of surface water and CAP (Kyl, 2008).

There are no recent agricultural surface water demand estimates available for the Fort Apache Reservation. Table 5.0-10 shows an estimate from the 1992 Preliminary HSR for the Upper Salt River Watershed.  Agricultural groundwater demand is estimated at approximately 200 AFA. (USGS, 2007)

Table 5.0-10 Tribal water demand in the Central Highlands Planning Area

tribal demand

Water demand on the San Carlos Apache Reservation portion within the planning area is assumed to be primarily due to agricultural irrigation of orchard crops.  Using agricultural and industrial demand estimates in the Hydrographic Survey Report for the Upper Salt River Watershed, (ADWR 1992) and per capita assumptions derived from a 2005 study by Truini et al. (2005) on other reservations, it is estimated that the annual demand of the two largest tribes in the planning area was about 4,500 acre-feet (Table 5.0-10).

The Tonto Apache and Yavapai-Apache Indian Reservations and tribal populations are relatively small and demand estimates were not available to the Department.  The Tonto Apache Indian Reservation is the smallest land base reservation in Arizona at 85 acres.  Principal water demands are associated with the Mazatzal Casino and restaurant, and tribal offices.  Water service is provided by the Tonto Apache Water System.  The 656-acre Yavapai-Apache Indian Reservation is located on five separate parcels with its tribal headquarters at Middle Verde.  This parcel is served water by the Middle Verde Indian Water System while other parcels are served by private water companies that also serve adjacent, non-reservation lands.  Tribal lands include irrigated farmland, residences and commercial businesses.  The tribe operates the Cliff Castle Casino and motel north of Camp Verde (see Figure 5.5-2). (ITCA, 2003)


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Colorado River Central Highlands Planning Area Download entire Central Highlands Planning Area Atlas in pdf Verde River Lake Pleasant