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Securing Arizona's Water Future

Lower Colorado River Water Resource Issues - Groundwater Transportation, Planning and Conservation and Issue Surveys

Groundwater Transportation

In general, groundwater cannot be transported between groundwater basins or from a groundwater basin outside an AMA into an AMA (A.R.S. §§ 45-544 and 45-551 through 45-555). These restrictions were designed to protect hydrologically distinct groundwater supplies and rural economies by ensuring that groundwater is not depleted in one groundwater basin to benefit another.  Three basins in the planning area, Butler Valley, Harquahala and McMullen Valley, are designated as basins from which groundwater may be withdrawn and transported under certain conditions.  Information about the statutory provisions is found in Section 7.0.6. 

As of December 2007, only the City of Phoenix has purchased agricultural land in the McMullen Valley Basin for the purpose of potentially transferring groundwater to the Phoenix AMA.  In addition, the Department has received an application from the City of Scottsdale to transport groundwater from the Harquahala Basin.  As competition for water supplies in AMAs increases, it is likely that additional applications will be filed.  Under the transportation statutes the rate of groundwater decline and pumping depth are regulated in the McMullen Valley and Harquahala basins, but there are no specified limits for the Butler Valley Basin. Withdrawal and transportation of groundwater may cause groundwater level declines and impact the groundwater supply available for use within the basins.

Eagle eye peak, McMullen Valley Baisn

Eagle Eye Peak, McMullen Valley Basin

Planning and Conservation

As mentioned in section 7.0-5, all community water systems in Arizona are required to submit a water system plan as part of the State’s Drought Preparedness Plan. The system water plan includes a water supply plan, water conservation plan, and drought preparedness plan. Water providers are required to develop the plan to ensure they reduce their vulnerability to drought and prepare to respond to potential water shortage conditions.

Local Drought Impact Groups (LDIGs) are county-level voluntary groups created to coordinated drought public awareness, provide impact assessment information to local and state leaders, and implement and initiate local drought mitigation and response actions. These groups are coordinated by local representatives of Arizona Cooperative Extension and County Emergency Management and supported by ADWR’s Statewide Drought Program. To date, groups have not been formed in La Paz or Yuma counties. Information on LDIGs may be found at http://www.azwater.gov/AzDWR/StatewidePlanning/Drought/LDIG.htm.

Issue Surveys

The Department conducted a rural water resources survey in 2003 to compile information for the public and help identify the needs of growing communities. This survey was also intended to gather information on drought impacts to incorporate into the Arizona Drought Preparedness Plan, adopted in 2004.  Questionnaires were sent to almost 600 water providers, jurisdictions, counties and tribes, and a report of the findings from the survey was subsequently completed (ADWR, 2004).

There were 15 water provider and 2 jurisdiction respondents in the Lower Colorado River Planning Area and all numerically ranked issues.  Respondents were asked to rank 18 issues. Issues that ranked consistently high by the most respondents are shown in Table 7.0-17.  As shown, most respondents were concerned about infrastructure needing replacement and the ability to fund improvements, and had water quality concerns.  Few respondents were concerned about inadequate storage or pumping capacity to meet future demand or the need for additional water supplies.

Table 7.0-17 Water resource issues ranked by survey respondents in the Lower Colorado River Planning Area

Table 7.0-17

The Department conducted another, more concise survey of water providers in 2004.  This was done to supplement the information gathered in the previous year in support of developing the Arizona Water Atlas, and to reach a wider audience by directly contacting each water provider.  Through this effort, 31 water providers in the Lower Colorado River Planning Area, with a total of approximately 40,200 service connections, participated and provided information on water supply, demand, and infrastructure and almost all ranked a list of seven issues.  Respondents were from the Gila Bend, Harquahala, Lower Gila, McMullen Valley, Parker and Yuma basins.

Water providers were asked in the 2004 survey to rank seven issues from 0 to 3 with 0 = no concern, 1 = minor concern, 2 = moderate concern and 3 = major concern.  There were 30 respondents that ranked issues.  As shown in Table 7.0-17, infrastructure concerns ranked as important concerns, similar to the 2003 survey.  This was especially of concern to providers in the Lower Gila Basin.  Water quality issues were not included in the issues list but a separate question asked the respondent to indicate contaminant concerns. Of the 31 respondents, 6 indicated concerns about arsenic and one indicated a concern about proximity to a source of contamination. Unlike results from the 2003 survey, this group of respondents was comprised of more large water providers and expressed concern about storage capacity and supplies to meet future demand.

 

 

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