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Securing Arizona's Water Future

Active Management Area Population - Population Growth and Water Use and Local Initiatives

Growing Smarter

Four out of the five counties in the planning area have requirements under the Growing Smarter Plus Act of 2000 (GSP Act). The GSP Act requires that counties with a population greater than 125,000 (2000 Census) include planning for water resources in their Comprehensive Plans. Counties in the planning area that must meet this requirement are Maricopa, Pinal, Pima and Yavapai. Santa Cruz is the only county in the planning area with a population less than 125,000 residents.

The GSP Act also requires that 30 communities in the AMAs include a water resources element in their general plan. These communities are:

Phoenix AMA:
• Apache Junction
• Fountain Hills
• Peoria
• Avondale
• Gilbert
• Phoenix
• Buckeye
• Glendale
• Queen Creek
• Cave Creek
• Goodyear
• Scottsdale
• Chandler
• Mesa
• Surprise
• El Mirage
• Paradise Valley
• Tempe
Pinal AMA:
• Casa Grande
• Florence
• Eloy
• Maricopa
Prescott AMA:
• Chino Valley
• Prescott Valley
• Prescott
Santa Cruz AMA:
• Nogales
Tucson AMA:
• Marana
• Sahuarita
• Oro Valley
• Tucson

All communities have complied with the general plan requirement. Plans must consider water demand and water resource availability in conjunction with growth, land use and infrastructure. These plans may contain useful water resource information.

Community Water System Planning

Beginning in 2007, all community water systems in the state were required to submit annual water use reports and system water plans to the Department. The reports and plans are intended to reduce system vulnerability to drought, and to promote water resource planning to ensure that water providers are prepared to respond to water shortage conditions. Most community water systems located within the AMA Planning Area were already reporting their annual water use to the Department and have been regulated under the Department’s mandatory municipal conservation program since the early 1980s. The other, “non-regulated” AMA community water systems must now also submit annual water use reports to the Department and all systems in the AMAs are now subject to the system water plan requirements. However, exemptions from some components of the plans may apply for large municipal providers, as well as providers with an AWS designation.

Local Drought Impact Groups (LDIGs) are county-level voluntary groups created to coordinate 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.  By the end of 2009 LDIG groups had been formed in Yavapai, Pinal, Pima and Santa Cruz counties. 

Local Initiatives

A number of local initiatives address water use and growth in the AMAs.  Citizen-based advocacy groups, and government-sponsored advisory groups, provide input into the growth and water use decision-making process within the AMA Planning Area.  These groups may include municipal and regional water users associations; watershed groups; county water advisory councils; non-profit conservation groups; water augmentation authorities; and county associations of government.

In the Tucson AMA, the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan was initiated by Pima County in 1998 in response to conservation needs of rare species, and as an effort to balance growth and environmental concerns.  The plan covers 59 million acres within Pima County.  The SDCP was incorporated into Pima County’s comprehensive land use plan in 2001 and addresses issues such as land use and water availability.

mountains in tucson

Foothills of the Rincon Mountains, Tucson AMA

The Groundwater Code established a five-member Groundwater Users Advisory Council (GUAC) within each AMA (A.R.S. § 45-420). Members of the councils are appointed by the governor to represent the users of groundwater in the AMA, and on the basis of their knowledge, interest, and experience with problems relating to the development, use and conservation of water.  The GUACs provide recommendations on groundwater management programs and policies to the AMA Director, and to the Director of the Department. 


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