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Lower Colorado River Cultural Water Demand - Industrial Demand

Cultural water demand in the Lower Colorado River Planning Area, organized by water source and water demand sector, is shown in Table 7.0-10.  Total cultural water demand averaged approximately 2,899,700 AFA during the period from 2001-2005.   Almost 98% of this demand is by the agricultural sector with approximately 2,835,100 acre-feet of annual demand.  Agricultural demand occurs in all of the basins with the exception of Tiger Wash and Western Mexican Drainage basins.  About 66% of the agricultural demand is met by surface water of which all but 3% is Colorado River water.  Municipal demand averaged 50,900 AFA during the period 2001-2005.  Municipal demand is primarily met by Colorado River water and the municipal sector is the only sector that utilizes effluent.  Industrial demand, primarily related to dairies and feedlots, averaged 13,600 AFA during this period.  Tribal water demand is included in these totals.

Table 7.0-10 Lower Colorado River Planning Area average cultural water demand by sector (2001-2005)

Table 7.0-10

Table 7.0-16 Industrial water demand in the Lower Colorado River Planning Area

Table 7.0-17

Industrial Demand

Industrial demand in the Lower Colorado River planning area averaged 13,560 AFA during the 2001-2005 time period, about 0.5% of the total demand.  As shown in Table 7.0-16, most demand is associated with power plants, although dairy and feedlot demand is growing, particularly in the Lower Gila Basin and more recently in the Ranegras Plain Basin. 

Mining activity in the Yuma Basin is associated with sand and gravel operations including the large-scale Cemex Highway 95 facility and BLT Company facility in the northern part of the basin.  The New Cornelia Mine, a large open pit copper mining operation at Ajo, was placed on care and maintenance in 1983.  There is a possibility that mining and ore processing may resume if copper prices increase enough. There are several small gold mines in the planning area including the Yuma King, 30 miles east of Parker. Two “industrial” golf courses are located in the Yuma Basin: Yuma Golf and Country Club and Dove Valley Golf Course.  Industrial facilities are those with their own well or water supply and not served from a municipal water provider.

Table 7.0-16 shows “other” industrial uses in the Yuma area that use Colorado River water (surface water).  These other uses include the Yuma Desalting Plant, cemetery irrigation and produce packing companies. There are industrial demands in the planning area not reflected in the table, primarily from sand and gravel operations including at least three in the Parker Basin.  Some of these operations are identified on the cultural demand maps.  Water is used for aggregate washing, dust control, vehicle washing and equipment cooling.  Relatively little water is consumed at these sites.  Finally, north of Gila Bend, in the Gila Bend Basin, shrimp are pond grown at the Desert Sweet Shrimp operation.  About 300,000 pounds of shrimp are produced annually and the shrimp effluent is applied to nearby agricultural fields.  Water demand of this aquaculture operation is not known.

Panda Power Plant

Panda Power Plant Gila Bend Basin

Power Plants

Panda Gila River Power Station is a 2,200 megawatt natural gas fired combined cycle plant located in Gila Bend and completed in 2003.  It was approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) in 2001 under very strict emissions requirements.  The plant has zero water discharge, with concentrated brine effluent disposed to evaporation ponds. The plant used about 4,400 acre-feet of groundwater in 2005.

The Harquahala Generating Project is a 1,000 megawatt gas-fired combined power facility that came on line in 2003.  As a condition of approval by the ACC, the owner agreed to use CAP water as the preferable supply.  Groundwater use is allowed but must meet the same siting and permitting requirements of facilities in AMAs.  The facility is designed to be zero water discharge and treats and recycles water more than 130 times to minimize consumption.  (PG&E Corporation, 2000)   The facility used about 750 acre-feet of groundwater and CAP water in 2005.

Arizona Public Service (APS) operates the natural gas-fueled Yucca Power Plant near Yuma.  There are four combustion turbine units that produce nearly 150 megawatts of power to APS customers. The plant’s other combustion turbine unit and one steam unit are owned by the Imperial Irrigation District in California.  The plant provides power on an as needed basis, particularly during the summer months. (APS, 2007)  The plant, which has a 1,500 acre-feet of 5th priority entitlement, used about 350 acre-feet of Colorado River water in 2005.


There are a number of dairy and feedlot operations in the planning area and these facilities are a growing demand sector due to development pressures and land costs in more urban parts of the state.  Dairies and feedlots are located adjacent to irrigated land where feed is grown and where disposal of wastes can occur. 

In 2003, Citrus Valley Dairy was the only dairy operating in the Gila Bend Basin with a groundwater demand of about 100 acre-feet.  Painted Rock Dairy began operation the next year and the combined demand in 2005 was approximately 170 acre-feet for an estimated 1,600 animals.

There are two dairies in the Lower Gila Basin, G.H. Dome Valley and Hine Hettinga, with a 2005 demand of 152 acre-feet and 94 acre-feet respectively.  These dairies house a combined total of 1,900 animals.  There are also two feedlots in the basin.  The Kammann Cattle Company used about 27 acre-feet of water for about 800 animals while McElhaney Cattle used about 3,394 acre-feet for an estimated 101,000 animals in 2005.

A biorefinery was planned to open in 2008 near Vicksburg in the Ranegras Plain Basin. Plans included a 7,500-cow dairy, a corn fractionation mill, a biodiesel plant and a waste-to-energy conversion plant.  While the facility has been substantially constructed, the project has been delayed with a focus on development of algae biomass as an alternative to corn and grains for biofuels. (AZFB, 2008) As of October, 2009, the facility had not commenced operation.

Painted Rock Dairy

Painted Rock Dairy in the Gila Bend Basin


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