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Population of the Upper Colorado River Planning Area

Census data for 2000 show about 162,100 residents in the Upper Colorado River Planning Area.  Arizona Department of Commerce (ADOC) population projections forecast that the planning area population will double by 2030, to about 323,100 residents.  Historic, current and projected populations for each basin are shown in the basin cultural water demand tables. Projections may not accurately reflect the most recent proposed developments, which include large master-planned communities in the Detrital Valley and Hualapai Valley basins.

As listed in Table 4.0-4 the most populous basins reported in the 2000 Census were Lake Mohave (51,549), Lake Havasu (44,591), Hualapai Valley (37,544), and Sacramento Valley (17,575).  The remaining basins had a combined population of less than 10,000 residents.  The 2000 Census population of the Fort Mojave Reservation was 773, with 1,353 residents on the entire Hualapai Indian Reservation.

Table 4.0-4 2000 Census Population of the Upper Colorado River Planning Area and Indian Reservations

Basin/Reservation 2000 Census Population
Lake Mohave
Fort Mojave 773
Lake Havasu
Hualapai Valley
Sacramento Valley
Bill Williams
Peach Springs
Hualapai 1,353
Detrital Valley
Big Sandy
Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2006

Shown in Table 4.0-5 are incorporated and unincorporated communities in the planning area with 2000 Census populations greater than 1,000 and their growth rates for two time periods.  Only three incorporated communities exist within the planning area, Lake Havasu City, Bullhead City, and Kingman.  Communities are listed from highest to lowest population according to the 2000 Census.  Mohave County was the fastest growing county in Arizona between 1990 and 2000, growing at a rate of 65.8% during that period.  The planning area population, which includes parts of other counties, grew by 71% during this time.  Mohave County is the fourth most “urban” county in the state, with 75% of its residents residing in “urban clusters,” defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as densely settled areas with a population of 2,500 to 49,999.  Communities with more than 1,000 residents grew at a rate of 58% compared to 184% outside these areas between 1990 and 2000.

Population Growth and Water Use

Growing Smarter and Local Planning

The State has limited mechanisms to address the connections between land use, population growth and water supply.  The Growing Smarter Plus Act of 2000 (Act) is a legislative attempt to link growth and water management planning.  It requires counties with a population greater than 125,000 (2000 Census) to include a water resources element in their comprehensive plans.  Both Mohave and Yavapai counties fit the population criteria.  There is little population or water development within the Yavapai County  portion of the planning area.  The Mohave County water resources element includes an overview of water resources, information on wells, surface water flows, water quality, Colorado River entitlement holders, water issues and projected water use.

The Act requires that 23 communities outside AMAs include a water resources element in their general plans.  For the Upper Colorado River Planning Area these communities are Bullhead City, Kingman and Lake Havasu City.

The Bullhead City water resource element focuses on Colorado River entitlements within its planning area and identifies as goals: 1) to acquire water resources to meet anticipated future needs; and 2) to continue water conservation measures.  The Kingman water resource element discusses its groundwater supplies in the Hualapai Valley and Sacramento Valley basins, future well field development and potential use of alternative supplies, including effluent. The Lake Havasu City General Plan includes policies to acquire additional water supplies and implement water conservation strategies to ensure that implementation of the general plan, which guides development, does not negatively impact Lake Havasu City’s water resources.  Completed plans are listed in basin references in this volume.

View to Kingman

Outskirts of Kingman, Hualapai Valley Basin. In the Upper Colorado River Planning Area three communities have water resources elements in the general plans, Bullhead City, Kingman and Lake Havasu City.

Water System Plans and Annual Reports

Beginning in 2007, all community water systems in the state were required to submit Annual Water Use Reports and System Water Plans. The reports and plans are intended to reduce community water system vulnerability to drought, and to promote water resource planning to ensure that water providers are prepared to respond to water shortage conditions.  In addition, the information will allow the State to provide regional planning assistance to help communities prepare for, mitigate and respond to drought.  An Annual Water Use Report must be submitted each year by the systems that includes information on water pumped, diverted and received, water delivered to customers, and effluent used or received. The System Water Plan must be updated and submitted every five years and consist of three components, a Water Supply Plan, a Drought Preparedness Plan and a Water Conservation Plan. By January 1, 2008, all systems were required to submit plans. By the end of 2008, plans had been submitted by 34 community water systems in the planning area.  Almost all of the larger systems submitted plans and were used to prepare this document. Annual water report information and a list of water plans are found in Appendix B. For more information see the Department's community systems water webpage.

Table 4.0-6 Summary of Water Adequacy Determinations in the Upper Colorado River Planning Area through December 2008

Basin # of Subdivisions # of Lots*

# of

Adequate Determ.

# of



Approx. Percent Inadequate
Big Sandy 4 >608 UNK 608 UNK
Bill Williams 8 >264 >264 0 0%
Detrital Valley 29 >6,090 0 >6,090 100%
Hualapai Valley 50 >19,393 10,969 >8,424 43%
Lake Havasu 14 >1,697 >1,697 UNK UNK
Lake Mohave 265 >32,802 >32,530 272 1%
Meadview 5 4,793 0 4,793 100%
Peach Springs 2 51 0 51 100%
Sacramento Valley 32 >4,415 1,200 >3,215 73%
TOTAL 409 >70,113 >46,660 >23,453 33%
Source: ADWR 2008b
1 Data on number of lots are missing for some subdivisions, actual number is larger
UNK = Unknown

Water Adequacy Program

The Department’s Water Adequacy Program also relates water supply and demand to growth to some extent, but does not control growth.  Developers of subdivisions outside of AMAs are required to obtain a determination of whether there is sufficient water of adequate quality available for 100 years.  If the supply is inadequate, lots may still be sold, but the condition of the water supply must be disclosed in promotional materials and in sales documents.  Legislation adopted in June 2007 (SB 1575) authorizes a county board of supervisors to adopt a provision, by unanimous vote, that requires a new subdivision to have an adequate water supply in order for the subdivision to be approved by the platting authority.  If adopted, cities and towns within the county may not approve a subdivision unless it has an adequate water supply.  If the county does not adopt the provision, the legislation allows a city or town to adopt a local adequacy ordinance that requires a demonstration of adequacy before the final plat can be approved.  To date, no counties, cities or towns in the planning area have adopted the provisions of SB 1575.

Subdivision adequacy determinations (Water Adequacy Reports), including the reasons for inadequate determination, are provided in basin tables and maps and are summarized in Table 4.0-6.  Also shown in the basin sections are approved applications for an Analysis of Adequate Water Supply (AAWS). This application is typically associated with large, master planned communities. During 2005 to 2007, there was considerable development activity in the northwestern part of the planning area.  This area is relatively near Las Vegas, NV, then one of the fastest growing communities in the United States.  The completion of a bridge across the Colorado River south of Hoover Dam, slated for 2010, will facilitate access to the area from Las Vegas.  AAWS applications for a number of large developments in the planning area have been approved by the Department. As of the end of 2008 a total of 19 applications totaling more than 421,800 lots had been approved.  Approved applications include approximately: 51,000 lots in the Detrital Valley Basin; 259,900 lots in the Hualapai Valley Basin; and 110,300 lots in the Sacramento Valley Basin.  Information regarding the status of pending and approved applications is available at the Department’s website.


Golden Valley, Sacramento Basin

The service areas of eight water providers in the planning area are designated as having an adequate water supply. A service area designation exempts subdivisions from demonstrating water adequacy if served by the provider. Designation information and the general location of designated service areas are also shown in basin maps and tables. As of December, 2008, designated providers included:

  • Cerbat Water Company (Cerbat Ranches, Hualapai Valley Basin)
  • Golden Valley Water Improvement District (Golden Valley, Sacramento Valley Basin)
  • Joshua Valley Utility Company (Meadview, Meadview Basin)
  • City of Kingman (Hualapai Valley and Sacramento Valley Basins)
  • Lake Havasu City (Lake Havasu Basin
  • Valley Pioneer Water Company (Golden Valley, Sacramento Valley Basin)
  • City of Bullhead City (Arizona-American Water Works, Bermuda Water Company, North Mohave Valley Corporation; Lake Mohave Basin)
  • Walnut Creek Water Company (Walnut Creek Estates, Sacramento Valley Basin)

As of April 2009, an application was pending to modify the designation of the Golden Valley Water Improvement District.  The designation modification for the City of Bullhead City was recently approved. It is planning on becoming a water provider and applied to modify its designation to reflect that change. Prior to modification it was designated pursuant to A.R.S. 45-108D, which allows designation of a city or town without it being a water provider if it has a Colorado River allocation and other conditions are met.


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