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Water Management

Tucson AMA: Water Management


Active Management Areas (AMAs)

Arizona Map with AMAs

In 1980, in response to legal challenges, funding threats to the Central Arizona Project and the problems associated with severe groundwater overdraft, the Arizona legislature passed the landmark Groundwater Management Act. The legislature embodied its intent in the Declaration of Policy:

“ is necessary to conserve, protect and allocate the use of groundwater resources of the state and to provide a framework for the comprehensive management and regulation of the withdrawal, transportation, use, conservation and conveyance of rights to use the groundwater in this state.§45-401(B)offsite icon

The Act created the Arizona Department of Water Resources, ensured completion of the CAP, and established Active Management Areas with long-term management goals. Within AMAs, rights were established, wells are regulated, and the municipal, industrial and agricultural sectors are subject to mandatory conservation programs that are established in Management Plans adopted every ten years. Since 1980, the basic framework of the Act has been built upon to include provisions for recharge and recovery, assured water supply, water banking and groundwater replenishment.

Water Rights

Within AMAs, the Groundwater Code authorizes water users and water providers to use groundwater in accordance with a system of water rights and withdrawal authorities that recognize historic uses and allows for certain new uses. A separate authority is required to drill a new well. The Tucson AMA administers more than 1,000* groundwater rights and permits.

    • 52 Type 1 rights
    • 346 Type 2 rights
    • 439 Irrigation rights (228 of those are exempt/small)
  • 42 Groundwater Withdrawal Permits

The Tucson AMA also administers 423 Irrigation Authorities in the Douglas INA.

* As of 1/09


wells by type TAMAAll wells in Arizona must be registered with ADWR and drilled by a licensed driller. Within AMAs, a Notice of Intention to Drill (NOI) is required for proposed exempt wells (pump capacity * in the Tucson AMA, more than half are exempt wells with a pump capacity of 35 GPM or less. Non-exempt wells that are new, or replacements in a new location, are reviewed to ensure that the well or wells will "not cause unreasonably increasing damage to surrounding land or water users from the concentration of wells"

( §45-598offsite icon ) pursuant to ADWR's Well Spacing and Impact Rules.

* As of 1/09

Recharge & Recovery

Sweetwater recharge facility Tucson WaterArizona's underground storage and recovery program is an innovative water management tool that is designed to encourage use of renewable supplies and allow for efficient & cost-effective management of water supplies

(Declaration of Policy, §45-801.01offsite icon ).

There are 17 active permits* for recharge projects in the Tucson AMA. Of those, 11 are direct recharge projects (Underground Storage Facilities; USFs), and six are indirect projects (Groundwater Savings Facilities; GSFs). There are 60 active Water Storage Permits associated with those projects. There are also 20 Recovery Well Permits, covering more than 300 wells. The Tucson AMA also administers one underground storage project in Sierra Vista.

* As of 12/08

Assured Water Supply

residential development Oro ValleyFlowing Wells, Marana, Metro Water (Main & West), Oro Valley, Sahuarita Water Company, Spanish Trail Water Company, Tucson Water, Vail Water Company and Willow Springs Utilities have Designations of Assured Water Supply.

* As of 1/09


Compliance & Enforcement

The purpose of ADWR's compliance program is to help achieve the goals of the Groundwater Code. The Tucson AMA monitors compliance with a variety of means, including annual water use reports, satellite imagery and on-site inspections. Statute allows ADWR to seek civil penalties of up to $10,000 per day. However, few violations are deliberate, and enforcement actions are often structured to help water users meet Code requirements rather than simply collect fines.

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