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Cultural Water Demand in the Upper Colorado River Planning Area - Tribal 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. 

The volume of cultural demand varies substantially between the planning area basins and ranges from about 150 AFA in the Meadview Basin to about 118,800 AFA in the Lake Mohave Basin (see Figure 4.0-18).

Tribal Water Demand

The Fort Mojave Indian reservation includes lands in Arizona, Nevada and California but almost 70% of its land base (23,500 acres), is located within Arizona in the Lake Mohave Basin.  The Tribal headquarters are located in Needles, CA.  In Arizona, the tribal population is approximately 800 and the primary water demand is farming.  A small casino, with associated services is located in Mohave Valley while a large hotel/casino and golf course are located in Laughlin, NV.  The Fort Mojave Tribal Utilities Authority serves about 850 customers in parts of Mohave Valley.  The Bermuda Water Company provides municipal service to parts of Fort Mojave.  In 2005, the tribal utility pumped about 260 acre-feet of groundwater (ACC, 2005).  In 1999, the tribe entered into an agreement to allow construction of a gas-fired power plant on the reservation.  The South Point Energy Center came on line in 2001 and was the first “merchant plant” built by an independent power company on tribal land (Calpine, 2001).  All power generated is sold on the open market.  Fort Mojave receives electricity generated at Parker Dam.  The South Point plant is designed to capture waste heat to generate a second phase of electricity, making it 40% more efficient than older natural gas plants.  Water use is estimated at 4,000 AFA of surface water (BIA, 1998)

Figure 4.0-18 Cultural Water Demand by Basin in the Upper Colorado River Planning Area 2001-2005 (in acre-feet)

Water demand by basin

The Hualapai Indian Reservation encompasses about 552,800 acres in the planning area, primarily in the Peach Springs Basin.  There also are small tracts of tribal lands in the Big Sandy, Hualapai Valley and Meadview basins.  The reservation, created in 1883, has a current population of about 1,500.   Peach Springs is the tribal capital.  Tribal water use is estimated to be less than 300 AFA.  The tribal economy is based on cattle ranching, tourism, timber sales and big game hunting.  The Hualapai Department of Public Works operates water and sewer systems in Peach Springs.  The Hualapai Water Resource Program develops non-community water sources and is responsible for a wetland and water quality monitoring program.  The Range Water Program performs water pipeline maintenance to cattle districts. (Hualapai Tribe, 2007)

The Hualapai Nation operates a tourist development at Grand Canyon West where a glass walkway, “Skywalk”, extends 70 feet beyond the canyon edge almost a mile above the Colorado River.  Water is an issue at the site and is currently trucked in.  The tribe anticipates further development at the site, requiring a local source of water (Cart, 2007).  The tribe has considered drilling a local well, extending a water pipeline 26 miles from wells on the west side of the Reservation, or pumping water to the rim from the Colorado River.  An exploratory well drilled near Grand Canyon West located water at more than 2,600 feet with an estimated flow of just 12 gpm (Hualapai Tribe, 2007).  

While the U.S. asserted tribal claims to the Colorado River in Arizona v. California, the Court only decided the claims of those tribes below Hoover Dam.  There presently is no court action pending to adjudicate any Hualapai claims.


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