Conservation in the AMAs

One of ADWR’s more successful management tools has been the development and implementation of mandatory conservation requirements for all users of groundwater within the AMAs. Municipal water providers, industrial users, and agricultural water users all have been subject to these requirements since the First Management Plan became effective in 1987. The current conservation requirements are described in the Third Management Plan (2000 - 2010) and its modifications for years 2011 until the date the Fourth Management plan takes effect.

Agricultural Conservation Program

  • Each Irrigation Grandfathered Right (IGR) is assigned a maximum annual groundwater allotment, which is based on assumed irrigation efficiencies of 65 to 80%.  In addition, each IGR is given a flexibility account, in which they can store any unused portion of their allotment as credits.  These credits can be utilized in future years to legally withdraw groundwater in addition to the amount the allotment permits, or they can be transferred to another right holder within the same irrigation district or subbasin in the following reporting year. The flexibility account also allows an IGR which exceeded its annual allotment to accrue debits up to 50% of its allotment before the owner must obtain credits from another right.
  • Farms can enroll in an optional best management practice (BMP) program, which excuses them from their annual conservation allotment and freezes their flex account so that neither credits nor debits are accrued, but requires the implementation of water conservation practices and technologies.
  • Irrigation district distribution systems which serve IGRs are not to exceed 10% losses.

Read more about the agricultural conservation program in Chapter 4 of the Management Plan

Forms & Reports:

Municipal Conservation Program

  • Lost and unaccounted-for water is defined as the total water from any source, withdrawn, diverted or received in a year that enters a municipal provider’s groundwater distribution system, minus the total amount of authorized deliveries from the groundwater distribution system made by the municipal provider in that year. Lost and unaccounted-for water includes line leakage, meter under-registration, evaporation or leakage from storage ponds or tanks, system and hydrant leaks or breaks and illegal connections.
  • Large municipal provider distribution system losses are not to exceed 10% on annual or 3-year-average basis. "Large municipal providers" are defined as those delivering more than 250 acre-feet, or about 81.4 million gallons, per year. Small municipal providers may not exceed 15%.
  • All large municipal water providers must comply with either the Gallons Per Capita Per Day (GPCD) Conservation Program or the Non-Per Capita  Conservation Program (NPCCP). Chapter 5 of the Fourth Management Plans has more detailed information on each program.
  • The GPCD program sets a target GPCD that a large provider may not exceed, which is recalculated each year based on a number of factors.  Providers are also offered a flex account balance to offer flexibility in meeting their target.  The GPCD formula can be found in Chapter 5 of the management plans. 
  • The NPCC program allows providers to choose from a list of BMPs that the provider and ADWR agree best serves their service area.  Providers must choose a minimum amount of BMPs based on their number of service connections in addition to public awareness outreach.

Read more about the municipal conservation program in Chapter 5 of the Management Plan

Forms & Reports:

Industrial Conservation Program

  • Annual allotment-based requirements for turf facilities based on landscaped and lake/pond acreage.
  • Incentives for reducing water intensive landscape and using renewable water sources for turf facilities.
  • Annual allotment-based requirements for dairies determined by the number of lactating cows.
  • Annual allotment-based requirements for feedlots determined by an average number of cattle.
  • Best management practices or design limitations are required of mines, cooling towers, sand and gravel operations, large-scale power plants and new large landscape users.

Read more about the industrial conservation program in Chapter 6 of the Management Plan.

Low water-use plant lists

The Arizona Department of Water Resources publishes extensive lists of native, drought-tolerant and low water-use plants, trees, and shrubs. Each Active Management Area has its own unique list of plants that qualify as low water use. These lists are for those who are looking to implement low water-use landscaping to comply with management plan requirements or those who are interested in conserving water used in their landscape.

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