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Water Resource Issues in the Upper Colorado River Planning Area - Watershed Groups and Studies

Water resource issues have been identified in the Upper Colorado River Planning Area by community watershed groups, through the distribution of surveys, and from other sources.  Planning and conservation efforts, watershed groups and studies and results from water provider surveys are discussed in this section.

Watershed Groups and Studies

There are two groups in the planning area that have been formed to address a variety of water resource issues, the Northwest Arizona Water Council and the Mohave County Water Authority (MCWA). MCWA was organized pursuant to A.R.S.§ 45-2201 primarily for the purpose of acquiring the city of Kingman’s unused 18,500 acre-feet entitlement and making it available to other authority members for municipal and industrial water uses (see Section 4.0-6). A complete description of participants, activities and issues is found in Appendix D.  Primary issues identified by the two groups are summarized as follows:

New Hoover Bridge

A number of large master-planned communities are planned as a result of the 2010 completion of the Hoover Dam bypass bridge


  • Large master-planned communities planned in Detrital Valley, Hualapai Valley and Sacramento Valley basins as a result of completion (2010) of the bypass bridge across the Colorado River
  • Unregulated lot splits

Water Supplies and Demand:

  • Limited groundwater data
  • Limited groundwater and Colorado River water supplies


  • Concerns regarding proposed development that may use Colorado River water

Water Quality:

  • Concerns related to mining activities
  • Concerns regarding hexavalent chromium


  • Limited funding resources for planning, projects, infrastructure, and studies


  • Impacts on private water companies and water haulers
  • Vulnerability of surface and groundwater supplies


  • Potential for subsidence due to rapid growth

Automated well

Automated telemetry well, Detrital Basin.  These wells are part of the ongoing hydrogeologic investigations in the Detrital Valley, Hualapai Valley and Sacramento Valley basins.

In addition, the large number of exempt wells and the lack of control or regulation of exempt wells have been identified as a concern in Mohave County.  Related to this are the large number of “Legacy Lots”, formed many years ago in the Sacramento Valley basin that lack service from a water company and are served by private wells or hauled water.

In response to concerns by local governments, water providers and citizens groups about the impacts of groundwater development, the Department, in collaboration with the USGS and with funding assistance from Mohave County, began conducting hydrogeologic investigations in 2005 to improve the understanding of water resources in three basins within the planning area; the Detrital Valley, Hualapai Valley and Sacramento Valley basins.  These investigations will assess existing data collection networks and examine the current state of knowledge of the groundwater system; improve understanding of geologic units and their relationship to groundwater storage and movement; improve knowledge of groundwater budget factors including recharge and storage; evaluate groundwater quality; establish a hydrologic monitoring network for on-going assessment of the aquifer; and inform the hydrologic community and area residents about hydrologic conditions (USGS, 2006).  To date, several reports have been completed including preliminary estimates of groundwater in storage for the Detrital Valley Basin (Mason and others, 2007) and the Sacramento Valley Basin (Conway and Ivanich, 2008). In addition the USGS released a report in 2007 on groundwater occurrence, movement and water level changes in all three basins (Anning and others, 2007).

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has produced a rapid watershed assessment (RWA) for the Detrital Wash Watershed. An RWA is a concise report containing information on natural resource conditions and concerns at the 8-digit HUC level. They are intended to provide sufficient information and analysis to generate an appraisal of the conservation needs of the watershed as well as serve other uses. (Reports are available at

Arizona NEMO (Non-point Education for Municipal Officials) has produced a watershed based plan for the Bill Williams Watershed that characterizes and classifies watershed features. The goal of NEMO is to educate land use decision makers to make choices and take actions that will lessen nonpoint source pollution and protect natural resources. (Plans are available online at

As mentioned previously, all community water systems in Arizona are required to submit a water system plan as part of the State’s Drought Preparedness Plan. The system water plan includes a water supply plan, water conservation plan, and drought preparedness plan. Water providers are required to develop the plan to ensure they reduce their vulnerability to drought and prepare to respond to potential water shortage conditions.

As part of implementation of the State Drought Plan, Local Drought Impact Groups (LDIGs) are being formed, as necessary, at the county level and a Mohave County group has been established. LDIGs are voluntary groups that will 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. Information on LDIGs is available here.

sample water plan

Arizona American Water System Water Plan. All community water systems in Arizona are required to submit a water system plan as part of the State's Drought Preparedness Plan.


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Bill Williams River Detrital Valley Basin