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Water Management

Active Management Areas (AMAs) & Irrigation Non-expansion Areas (INAs) 

Prescott AMA            Phoenix AMA           Pinal AMA          Tucson AMA          Santa Cruz AMA

The 1980 Arizona Groundwater Code recognized the need to aggressively manage the state’s finite groundwater resources to support the growing economy. Areas with heavy reliance on mined groundwater were identified and designated as Active Management Areas (AMAs). There are five AMAs (see map below): Prescott, Phoenix, Pinal, Tucson, and Santa Cruz. These areas are subject to regulation pursuant to the Groundwater Code. Each AMA carries out its programs in a manner consistent with these goals, while considering and incorporating the unique character of each AMA and its water users. In the Phoenix, Prescott, and Tucson AMAs, the primary management goal is safe-yield by the year 2025. Safe-yield is accomplished when no more groundwater is being withdrawn than is being annually replaced.

In the Pinal AMA, where the economy is primarily agricultural, the management goal is to preserve that economy for as long as feasible, while considering the need to preserve groundwater for future non-irrigation uses.

In the Santa Cruz AMA the management goal to maintain a safe-yield condition in the active management area and to prevent local water tables from experiencing long term declines.

The Groundwater Management Act also established two Irrigation Non-Expansion Areas (INAs) - the Joseph City INA and the Douglas INA. Since the law was passed, the Harquahala area has also been designated an INA (see map below). When an area is designated as an INA, a restriction is placed on

increasing the number of irrigated acres in the area.

 

Active Management Areas (AMAs)

 

 

           Map of the AMAs

       

 

 

Prescott AMA

  • Over 485 sq. miles
  • Consists of 2 sub-basins
  • 3 million Acre-Feet (AF) of groundwater in storage
  • 20,000 AF of annual water use

Phoenix AMA

  • Over 5600 sq. miles
  • Consists of 7 sub-basins
  • 287,000 acres of farmland
  • Over 2 million AF of annual water use

Pinal AMA

  • Over 4,000 sq. miles
  • Consists of 5 sub-basins
  • 260,000 acres of non-Indian farmland
  • Over 800,000 AF of non-Indian annual water use

Tucson AMA

  • Over 3,800 sq. miles
  • Consists of 2 sub-basins
  • Over 300,000 AF of annual water use

Santa Cruz AMA

  • Over 750 sq. miles
  • Consists of 1 sub-basin
  • Over 20,000 AF of annual water use

 

Irrigation Non-Expansion Areas (INAs)

INA MAPThe 1980 Groundwater Management Act established two Irrigation Non-Expansion Areas (INAs) - the Joseph City INA and the Douglas INA. Since the law was passed, the Harquahala area has also been designated an INA. When an area is designated as an INA, a restriction is placed on increasing the number of irrigated acres in the area.

In the Joseph City and Douglas INAs land that was legally irrigated at any time between January 1, 1975 and January 1,1980 may continue to be irrigated. In the Harquahala INA, the period establishing the right to irrigate is January 6, 1976 to January 6, 1981.

There is one exception. If the Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources (Department) finds that substantial capital investment was made for on-site irrigation facilities or improvement of land for irrigation use, that land may be irrigated. The investment must have been made during a specified period of time. In the Joseph City and Douglas INAs, the investment must have occurred during the twelve months before June 12, 1980. In the Harquahala INA

any improvement made during the five year period preceding January 6, 1981 is considered.

Landowners in the INAs should be aware of the following requirements of the Groundwater Code.

Measuring Devices

All persons withdrawing groundwater from non-exempt wells within an INA must use a measuring device and measuring method to record water use, except for:  (1) persons who withdraw 10 acre-feet or less for non-irrigation purposes only, and (2) persons who withdraw groundwater for an irrigation use if the Notice of Irrigation Authority for the land on which the groundwater is used includes 10 or fewer contiguous acres and the land is not part of a farming operation that includes more than 10 acres. A non-exempt well has a pump capacity over 35 gallons per minute or irrigates more than two acres.

Wells

The Groundwater Code requires that all existing wells be registered with the Department. The filing fee for a Late Registration of a Well is $120.00.  Prior to drilling a new well or deepening, replacing or modifying an existing well, a person must file a Notice of Intent to Drill with the Department. The fee for a well located within an INA is $150.00.  Forms are available from the Department and must be accompanied with the appropriate filing fee. Authority to modify, deepen, or replace an existing well or drill a new well will be valid for one year; after that a new Notice of Intent must be filed. A driller licensed by the Department must perform the work. Each person who owns a well must notify the Department of any change in ownership of the well.

Annual Reports

The Groundwater Code requires that each person withdrawing groundwater from a non-exempt well must file an annual report of groundwater withdrawals by March 31 of each year. Persons who withdraw groundwater for an irrigation use are exempt from the reporting requirements if the Notice of Irrigation Authority for the land on which the groundwater is used includes 10 or fewer contiguous acres and the land is not part of a farming operation that includes more than 10 acres.  An annual report must be filed whether groundwater is withdrawn for irrigation or non-irrigation purposes. However, if no water is withdrawn during a particular calendar year, it is not necessary to file an annual report for that year.

 

Conservation Requirements

    

The Conservation Site provides information about the conservation requirements and accomplishments in the AMAs, conservation tools available on the Department’s conservation website, conservation assistance programs, and the AMA's Low Water Use plant lists.

 

Groundwater Users Advisory Council (GUAC)

The Groundwater Code established a five-member, Governor-appointed Groundwater Users Advisory Council for each AMA. Members are appointed to six year terms to represent groundwater users in their respective AMA. Each Council provides advice and recommendations to the AMA Director on the groundwater management programs and policies within the AMA.

 

Click here to access the GUAC webpage

Management Plans

The Management Plans reflect the evolution of the Groundwater Code, moving Arizona toward its long-term water management goals. A series of five management plans prepared between 1980 and 2025 are to contain progressively more rigorous management requirements for agricultural, municipal and industrial water users.  The five management plans cover the following years:

First Management Period             1980 to 1990

Second Management Period         1990 to 2000

Third Management Period           2000 to 2010 

Fourth Management Period          2010 to 2020

Fifth Management Period             2020 to 2025

Evaluation of the Management Plans

The evaluation of previous and current Management Plans will assist the Department in the development of the Fourth Management Plan. The Department is currently in the initial stages of formulating the Fourth Management Plan.

 

Modified Non-Per Capita Conservation Program

The Modified Non-Per Capita Conservation Program (MNPCCP) is a performance-based program that requires participating providers to implement water conservation measures that result in water use efficiency in their service areas. All large municipal providers (cities, towns and private water companies serving more than 250 acre-feet per year) that do not have a Designation of Assured Water Supply (DAWS) and that are not regulated as a large untreated water provider or an institutional provider are required to participate. The MNPCCP became effective in May 2008 and is described in the Second Modification of the Third Management Plan.

 

Annual Reporting

Please view the Department's Annual Reporting Site for additional information about filing certain Annual Water Withdrawal and Use Reports for rights located within an AMA and Community Water System Annual Use Reports for rights located outside an AMA.