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Cultural Water Demand in the Upper Colorado River Planning Area - Agricultural Demand

Water use by sector

Figure 4.0-17 Cultural Water Demand by Sector in the Upper Colorado River Planning Area 2001-2005 (in acre-feet)

Cultural water demand in the Upper Colorado River Planning Area is shown in Figure 4.0-17.  As shown, agricultural demand is the largest use sector at approximately 99,550 AFA due almost entirely to farming in the Lake Mohave Basin. Municipal demand is the next largest water demand sector with approximately 52,400 AFA met primarily by groundwater.  Industrial demand, mainly for mining, is about 22,100 AFA.  Total demand averaged approximately 174,100 AFA during the period from 2001-2005. 

Agricultural Demand

Average agricultural demand for 2001-2005 was about 99,550 AFA; 56% of the total cultural water demand.   Ninety-six percent of the agricultural demand occurred in the Lake Mohave Basin where principal crops include cotton, alfalfa, hay and wheat.  Relatively small amounts of agricultural water demand were reported in the Big Sandy and Bill Williams basins.  Surface water and groundwater use for agriculture in selected years for the entire planning area is shown in Table 4.0-13.  As shown, total agricultural demand declined by 9,500 acre-feet between 1991 and 2005.  About 65% of the agricultural demand was met with surface water during the period 2001-2005.

In the Lake Mohave Basin, agricultural irrigation occurs in the Mohave Valley on the Fort Mojave Indian Reservation and on private lands located within the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District (MVIDD).  In the southern end of the valley, tribal and district lands are interspersed in a checkerboard pattern.  About 15,000 acres of reservation lands were recently under cultivation (ITCA, 2003), which may include non-Indian agricultural lessees.  There are a total of about 31,500 acres within the MVIDD boundaries, of which about 3,800 acres are reported in cultivation.  MVIDD does not divert or deliver water to its water users.  District farmers operate and maintain their own production wells, pumps and distribution systems (ADWR, 1998).

Table 4.0-13 Agricultural Demand in the Upper Colorado River Planning Area

Agricultural Demand

Agricultural demand in the Lake Mohave Basin has increased substantially since the early 1970s when less than 20,000 AFA was used.  Since 1990, annual agricultural demand has remained relatively constant, with up to 103,700 AFA used on average during the 1996-2000 time period.  The increase is primarily due to Fort Mojave Indian agricultural water use.  It is estimated that approximately 60-65% of the total current irrigation demand is attributable to tribal irrigation.

Peeples Valley Irrigation

Irrigation in the Bill Williams Basin

In the Big Sandy and Bill Williams basins irrigation is primarily for pasture.  Irrigation in the Big Sandy Basin has been estimated at less than 300 acre-feet of groundwater per year since 1991, consisting of small pasture in the vicinity of the Big Sandy River.  In the Bill Williams Basin, irrigation has declined from an average of 15,600 AFA during the 1991-1995 period to just 4,100 AFA during the 2001-2005 time period. This decline is primarily a result of cessation of farming at Planet Ranch, downstream from Alamo Dam, where flooding in 1993 washed out much of the irrigation infrastructure.  Reportedly, only one cotton farm remains along the Bill Williams River below Alamo Dam.  Most of the other remaining agricultural lands are located in the vicinity of Kirkland and Skull Valley (see Figure 4.2-10). 

 

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