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Lower Colorado River Cultural Water Demand - Municipal Demand

Cultural water demand in the Lower Colorado River Planning Area, organized by water source and water demand sector, is shown in Table 7.0-10.  Total cultural water demand averaged approximately 2,899,700 AFA during the period from 2001-2005.   Almost 98% of this demand is by the agricultural sector with approximately 2,835,100 acre-feet of annual demand.  Agricultural demand occurs in all of the basins with the exception of Tiger Wash and Western Mexican Drainage basins.  About 66% of the agricultural demand is met by surface water of which all but 3% is Colorado River water.  Municipal demand averaged 50,900 AFA during the period 2001-2005.  Municipal demand is primarily met by Colorado River water and the municipal sector is the only sector that utilizes effluent.  Industrial demand, primarily related to dairies and feedlots, averaged 13,600 AFA during this period.  Tribal water demand is included in these totals.

Table 7.0-10 Lower Colorado River Planning Area average cultural water demand by sector (2001-2005)

Table 7.0-10

Municipal Demand

Municipal demand is summarized by groundwater basin and water supply in Table 7.0-11.  Average annual demand during 2001-2005 was about 50,930 acre-feet.  Sixty-five percent of the municipal demand is met by surface water from the Colorado River, primarily in the Yuma Basin.  In all other basins, groundwater is the primary municipal water supply.  Effluent is used to meet municipal demand in the Yuma and Parker basins.

It is estimated that about 84% of the planning area population is served by a water provider.  Eight water providers in the planning area served 500 acre-feet of water or more in 2006.  These providers and their demand in 1992, 2000 and 2006 are shown in Table 7.0-12.  In 2006, municipal utilities served the communities of Gila Bend, Wellton, Parker, San Luis, Somerton and Yuma.  Municipally-owned systems have more flexible water rate-setting ability than private water companies, which are regulated by the Arizona Corporation Commission.  In addition, municipal utilities have the authority to enact water conservation ordinances.  This authority may enable municipal utilities to better manage water resources within water service areas.  Water provider issues are discussed in Section 7.0.8.

Table 7.0-11 Average annual municipal water demand in the Lower Colorado River Planning Area, 2001-2005 (in acre-feet)

Table 7.0-11

Primary municipal demand centers are the Yuma area where the four largest communities in the planning area are located, and Parker/Parker Strip, Ajo, Quartzsite and Gila Bend.  The only basins with population centers greater than 1,000 are Gila Bend, Lower Gila, Parker and Yuma basins.  For information on gpcd and annual water demand by individual community water systems in this planning area see ADWR's Community Water System Program annual water use reporting summary.

Yuma Area

The total municipal demand in the Yuma Basin is about 40,760 AFA. The largest providers, City of Yuma, Far West Water and Sewer, Inc., City of Somerton and City of San Luis provided about 31,850 acre-feet of Colorado River water and groundwater to customers in 2006.  A number of wastewater treatment plants treat sewage in the Yuma area.  The largest is the Figueroa Avenue Water Pollution Control Facility at Yuma.  Somerton, San Luis and Far West Sewer also operate relatively large treatment plants.  In its 2002 General Plan, the City of Yuma estimated that about 24% of existing housing units were not connected to a sewer system and that rapid growth in the Fortuna Foothills area has resulted in construction of on-site septic systems and private package treatment plants. (City of Yuma, 2002)

The City of Yuma is the largest water provider, with Priority 1 and Priority 3 Colorado River water annual consumptive use entitlements totaling 50,000 acre-feet. The City can supplement its entitlement through the use of return flow credits such as water returned to the river following wastewater treatment and conversion of irrigation rights to municipal use. Colorado River water is transported to Yuma through several facilities (see Figure 7.0-14).  About 97% of the City’s Colorado River water is transported through the All American Canal and Yuma County Water Users Association (YCWUA) facilities, including the Yuma Main Canal, to the Yuma Main Street Water Treatment Plant. The remaining three percent is delivered through the Gila Gravity Main Canal to the East Mesa treatment plant. (City of Yuma, 2002)  In 2006, City of Yuma water demand was about 20,400 acre-feet of which 4,240 was well pumpage and 16,180 was Colorado River water.  About 60% of this demand is for residential uses. Commercial demand includes deliveries to golf courses but the precise number of courses and amount delivered is not known. (City of Yuma, 2007)  The Department estimated that there are at least six golf courses served by the City of Yuma with a total annual demand of over 1,800 acre-feet.  It does not appear that the City of Yuma provides effluent to meet this turf irrigation demand.

Table 7.0-12 Water providers serving 450 acre-feet or more of water per year in 2006, excluding effluent, in the Lower Colorado River Planning Area

Table 7.0-12

Far West Water and Sewer, Inc. serves the rapidly growing Fortuna Foothills area east of Yuma in unincorporated Yuma County.  In 2006, it served about 6,660 acre-feet of water. The primary water supply is surface water from the Colorado River, delivered via the Yuma Mesa Irrigation District and “A” Canal.   Groundwater is used as a back-up water supply, for irrigation water at three golf courses, and for construction.  Far West operates a drinking water treatment plant, seven wastewater treatment facilities and serves about 15,000 water and 6,500 wastewater connections. (Far West Water & Sewer, Inc., 2006)  About 446 acre-feet of treated wastewater, in addition to groundwater, was delivered to Foothills Executive, Foothills Par 3, Fortuna del Rey, Las Barrancas and Mesa del Sol golf courses to meet part of their annual water demand.  Total annual demand of these courses was estimated at 1,525 acre-feet.

Fortuna Foothills

Fortuna Foothills in the Yuma Basin

The City of Somerton, located about ten miles southwest of Yuma, is a fast growing, primarily residential community with 10,260 residents in 2006.  In 2006, approximately 1,400 acre-feet was served to customers, of which 93% were residential customers. The Somerton Municipal Water System service area is about 2.5 square miles in size and groundwater is pumped from three wells located in T9S, R24W.  A fourth well is not used due to water quality problems.  Depth to water is consistently about ten feet below land surface.  The City is not interconnected to any other systems.  It has a 2006 contract for 750 acre-feet of Priority 4 Colorado River water and is purchasing rights that are not currently being used. (City of Somerton, 2006)

Located adjacent to the international boundary, the City of San Luis is the fastest growing community in the entire planning area, growing by 37% between 2000 and 2006.  In 2006, approximately 3,400 acre-feet was withdrawn from nine wells to serve almost 5,100 customer connections. Of the volume withdrawn, 1,079 acre-feet was delivered to residential customers and 948 acre-feet to non-residential customers of which 414 acre-feet was delivered to turf (City of San Luis, 2007). (The City reported only ten acre-feet delivered to turf in 2007).

Parker/Parker Strip

The Town of Parker and the Parker Strip had a combined population of about 6,400 in 2000.  The Parker Strip is the area north of Parker along the Colorado River to the basin boundary.  The area has grown rapidly, particularly the Parker Strip, which grew by 101% between 1990 and 2000.  The Town of Parker Municipal System is the largest local water provider, serving about 3,200 residents with 1,250 service connections to the one square mile town, deeded inside the CRIT Reservation.  The CRIT Water Department serves the area outside the town limits. 

Parker Municipal System pumped almost 1,000 acre-feet in 2006 from three wells pumping Colorado River water.  The town has 630 acre-feet of Priority 1 entitlement and a combined volume of 3,030 acre-feet of 4th, 5th and 6th Priority water.  Water levels in system wells vary from 75 to 90 feet and well pumpage reportedly doubles in the summer months. The system is interconnected to the CRIT water system and is used for emergency purposes. (Town of Parker, 2006)  In 2006 it delivered 470 acre-feet to residential customers, 285 to commercial customers and 89 acre-feet to turf. 

Brooke Water LLC is the largest water provider in the Parker Strip and has an entitlement for 360 acre-feet of Priority 1 and 440 acre-feet of Priority 4 water.  In 2006 Brooke Water LLC-Lakeside diverted 163 acre-feet of Colorado River water and delivered 136 acre-feet to residential customers. Emerald Canyon Golf Course, located north of Cienega Springs, uses effluent from the Buckskin/Sandpiper WWTP to meet part of its irrigation demand.

Parker Dam

Parker Dam


The Town of Ajo is the largest community in the planning area not located on or near the Colorado River.  Ajo was founded by the New Cornelia Copper Company in about 1915. Phelps Dodge acquired the property in 1931 and continued to operate the mine until 1985.  At that time most of the company-owned non-mining properties were sold to the residents and the unincorporated community is now a tourist and retiree destination. Three water companies serve the town. (ADOC, 2007a) The largest system is the Ajo Improvement Company owned by the Phelps Dodge Corporation. It pumps water from two active wells in the Child’s Well Field, seven miles north of Ajo, at a depth of 1,170 to 1,350 feet.  It also provides sewer services and wastewater treatment.  Effluent is not reused but is discharged to evaporation ponds. Ajo Improvement Company delivers groundwater to two other water systems: Arizona Water Company-Ajo System and Ajo Domestic Water Improvement District (DWID), neither of which operate their own wells to serve customers. (Malcolm Pirnie, 2006) 

In 2006, Ajo Improvement Company served 543 acre-feet of groundwater to 3,000 residents (1,390 service connections) and to the two other water systems.  Its customer demand was about 300 acre-feet, of which 184 acre-feet was residential and 120 acre-feet was commercial.  In that year the Ajo DWID received about 40 acre-feet of water from the Ajo Improvement Company and served about 405 residents. (Phelps Dodge Corporation, 2007)   In 2006, Arizona Water Company received about 184 acre-feet of water from the Ajo Improvement Company.  Arizona Water Company-Ajo System serves about 686 connections, 73% residential and 27% non-residential. (Arizona Water Company, 2007) There is a nine-hole golf course in Ajo but the source of irrigation water is not known.

Gila Bend

Located at a transportation hub, the Town of Gila Bend has a number of gas stations, mini-marts, hotels and restaurants in addition to residential housing  The municipal water demand was 557 acre-feet in 2007 (2006 data were not available) served to 733 residential and 66 commercial connections. Groundwater was pumped from two wells with water levels at 300 feet bls.  The emergency source of water is water trucked from Lewis Prison or Paloma Ranch (Town of Gila Bend, 2008).  About 400 acre-feet of effluent is generated at the Gila Bend Wastewater Treatment Plant and all is discharged to a watercourse. 

Other municipal water demands in the northern part of the Gila Bend Basin include two large prisons, the Arizona State Prison Lewis Complex and the Eagle Point School Juvenile Corrections Facility, located on either side of Highway 85 in T2S R4W (see Figure 7.2-10).  An associated Arizona Department of Corrections wastewater treatment plant generates over 400 AFA of effluent so water demand at the site is likely between 600 and 800 AFA. There is a small residential community located around a constructed water ski lake in the northern part of T4S R4W and another, Spring Mountain Ski Ranch, under construction in T3S R4W.  These types of development are easier to construct outside of the state’s active management areas since within an AMA, groundwater may not be used to fill a private lake larger than 12,320 square feet (about 0.28 acres) in area.


Wellton is located in the middle of the Wellton-Mohawk Valley along Interstate 8 and serves as a business, service and recreation center for more than 5,000 people in the surrounding area.  The Town of Wellton had a population of almost 2,000 in 2006 and grew by 72% between 1990 and 2000.  The municipal water system receives Colorado River water from the Wellton-Mohawk Irrigation District and maintains one well for emergency backup. In 2006 the town received 314 acre-feet of surface water and served 214 acre-feet to residential customers and 97 acre-feet to commercial connections.  New developments in the area, such as the master planned Coyote Wash, will increase municipal water demand.  This planned community is anticipated to include 2,500 homes, a condominium complex and shopping center, and two 18-hole golf courses.  By 2009, a 9-hole golf course had been completed and more than 500 lots sold.  Another 18-hole course (Butterfield) at Wellton uses about 441 acre-feet of surface water annually.


Quartzite in the Parker Basin.


Although the water system for the Town of Quartzsite is not large, the community is rapidly growing with 3,600 residents in 2005.  Located in the middle of the Parker Basin at the junction of Interstate 10 and U.S. 95, it is a tourist and retirement community with a population that swells in the winter with numerous gem and rock shows.  There are an estimated 1.5 million annual visitors (ADOC, 2007b). 

In 2007, Quartzsite withdrew 439 acre-feet of water from two wells and served 340 acre-feet to residential customers, primarily in the area north of Interstate 10.  Water levels in wells were reported at 390 feet and 442 feet. Plans are underway to drill a production well on the south side of the Interstate (Town of Quartzite, 2008).  Prior to 1989, private domestic wells were the only water supply and several hundred exist within the town limits (Town of Quartzsite, 2003).  Quartzsite has a 4th Priority Colorado River entitlement of 1,070 acre-feet but no way to currently convey this water to the town.

In addition to the Town of Quartzsite public water system, two, small private water companies, Desert Gardens RV Park and Q-Mountain MHP serve Quartzsite. The Q-Mountain system has 214 connections served by four wells that delivered about 43 acre-feet of water in 2003 (ADWR, 2004).

Golf course demand is estimated to be approximately 12% of the total municipal demand in the planning area.  Estimated demand and water supply for all golf courses in the planning area is shown in Table 7.0-13.  There are twelve municipal golf courses in the Yuma Basin receiving a combination of groundwater, surface water and effluent, three in the Lower Gila Basin using groundwater or surface water and one each in McMullen Valley and Parker basins. Two golf courses are believed to have facility wells that serve the course and are considered industrial golf courses.

Table 7.0-13 Golf courses in the Lower Colorado River Planning Area (c. 2008)

Table 7.0-13



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