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Water Resource Issues in the Eastern Plateau Planning Area - Watershed Groups and Studies

A number of water resource issues have been identified in the planning area by community groups, through the distribution of surveys, and from other sources.  Areas covered in this section include Watershed Groups and Studies, Planning and Conservation, Surveys and Tribal Issues.

Watershed Groups and Studies

Several watershed groups have formed in the Eastern Plateau Planning Area to address a variety of water resource issues.  Some groups encompass areas outside of the Eastern Plateau Planning Area. Groups that are currently active in various locations within the basin are the Coconino Plateau Water Advisory Council, Northern Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, Little Colorado Watershed Coordinating Council (formerly the Little Colorado River Multi-Objective Management Partnership (LCRMOM)), Pinetop-Lakeside Watershed Enhancement Partnership, the Silver Creek Watershed Partnership, the Upper Little Colorado River Watershed Partnership and the Navajo Nation. A complete description of participants, activities, reports and issues is found in Appendix D. Primary issues identified by these groups that apply to the Eastern Plateau Planning area can be summarized as follows:


  • Excessive growth in some areas
  • Proposed development in Greer and impacts on the Little Colorado River
  • Unregulated lot splits

Water Supplies and Demand:

  • Limited and deep groundwater supplies
  • Drought sensitive supplies
  • Numerous water haulers and few hauling stations which are sometimes cutoff during drought
  • Limited surface water supplies for Page
  • Limited groundwater data for entire region
  • Potential impacts on groundwater system from power plants
  • Seasonal demands impacting ability to meet peak demands


  • Potential limitation of groundwater usage resulting from Indian reserved groundwater rights
  • Uncertainty of Indian water right settlements (Little Colorado River & Colorado River)
  • Access to water development activities on public lands
  • Competition from Phoenix/Tucson for CAP reallocation water
  • Upper Basin/Lower Basin Colorado River issues affecting potential for use
  • Unresolved surface water adjudication

Water Quality:

  • Minor arsenic issues in Woody Mtn. Well field (9-14 ppb)
  • Arsenic and TDS in some areas


  • Endangered Species Act implications on groundwater usage and impacts on perennial streams
  • Impact of invasive species (tamarisk)


  • Limited funding resources for planning, projects, infrastructure and studies
  • Extremely high cost of water augmentation projects
  • Funding for Colorado River water infrastructure
  • Funding for water delivery infrastructure


  • Drought impacts on surface water supplies and springs resulting in impacts on agriculture and cattle ranching
  • Potential impacts on tourism due to drought


  • Political differences between some communities
  • Perception of no real water supply problem
  • Several high hazard unsafe dams

Flagstaff, Arizona

San Francisco Peaks outside of Flagstaff, Arizona


Potential future and current water supply shortfalls have lead to discussions among the Coconino Plateau Advisory Council regarding water supply development/augmentation alternatives (Heffernon and Muro, 2001).  A study to identify potential supply alternatives for the area was completed by the Bureau of Reclamation in 2005 and the North Central Arizona Water Supply Study was completed in 2006. All the proposed alternatives to address shortfall included a pipeline to deliver Lake Powell water to various demand centers (USBOR, 2006).  A number of other hydrologic and planning studies have been conducted in the planning area, especially in the Flagstaff area. The Department completed a Hydrologic Map Series Report of southern Navajo County in 2007 which covers the area south of the Navajo Nation to the Mogollon Rim. The NEMO Watershed Based Plan for the Little Colorado Watershed was completed in 2006. NEMO (Non-point Education for Municipal Officials) is intended to help communities protect their natural resources while still accommodating growth. Other planning area studies are found in the reference section of this volume.


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Download pdf of entire Eastern Plateau Planning Area Download pdf of the Eastern Plateau Planning Area Overview References and Supplemental Reading for the Eastern Plateau Planning Area Overview
Colorado River Eastern Plateau Planning Area Arizona Water Atlas Volume 2 Download Little Colorado River Plateau Basin pdf References and Suggested Reading