Recovery of Water Stored by the Arizona Water Banking Authority

Working Together: Arizona Water Leaders Prepare for Recovery of “Banked” Water

Working Together: Arizona Water Leaders Prepare for Recovery of “Banked” Water
Published
May 25, 2021

Over two decades of often-severe drought… chronic instability on the Colorado Rivers system, particularly at Lake Mead… the uncertainties spawned by the prospect of a drier future overall for the Southwest…

It’s time to start implementing… The Plan.

 

The Arizona Water Bank delivers water for storage at both Underground Storage Facilities (USF) and Groundwater Savings Facilities (GSF).

 

For 25 years, the Arizona Water Banking Authority, or AWBA, has been storing water underground to protect against future shortages on the Colorado River. Now that the system may be facing shortage in 2022, the capability to recover this supply is more important than ever.

With the increasing likelihood of Colorado River shortages and the additional reductions required under the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan (completed and signed in 2019), stakeholders expressed a desire for additional clarity in recovery implementation.

The Water Bank, along with the Arizona Department of Water Resources and the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (the governing entity for the Central Arizona Project), convened the “Recovery Planning Advisory Group” in January 2018.

An Underground Storage Facility (USF) is a facility that physically stores water in the aquifer through direct recharge.

That advisory group (shorthand: “RPAG”) sought to ensure that stakeholder perspectives are considered as recovery planning concepts are updated.

The contributions of RPAG members and other stakeholders played an important role in furthering the concepts reflected in the recently completed 2021 Update.

That update, the “Recovery of Water Stored by the Arizona Water Banking Authority: A Joint Plan by AWBA, ADWR and CAP” is now available online.

 

A Groundwater Savings Facility (GSF) is an indirect recharge facility that uses surface water (CAP water) instead of pumped groundwater

 

Officially known as the “2021 Update to the Joint Recovery Plan,” the “2021 Update” serves as a companion document to an earlier version prepared in 2014. This latest edition expands on the earlier plan and provides further clarity on recovery implementation.

The 2014 Plan -- also a collaborative effort among the Water Bank, ADWR and CAP -- provides a roadmap for the recovery of Water Bank water-storage credits.

The 2021 Update includes a summary of recovery planning activities that have occurred since the completion of the 2014 Plan, an updated analysis of projected AWBA firming volumes, estimated recovery capacity needs and an updated operational timeline to further refine the procedural steps for recovery implementation.

“Recovery of Water Stored by the Arizona Water Banking Authority: A Joint Plan by AWBA, ADWR and CAP” is now available online.

The AWBA itself has stored more than 4 million acre-feet of CAP-delivered water underground since its inception in 1996.

 

In total, nearly 12 million acre-feet of water have been stored underground in multiple locations around the State over the years. In addition to the Water Bank, entities storing that water include cities, tribes, and private organizations.

The highlights of the 2021 Update to the Joint Recover Plan are:

●         Provides an analysis of projected Water Bank firming volumes and estimated recovery capacity needs

●         Builds on previous planning efforts outlined in the 2014 plan

●         Discusses recovery concepts intended to increase flexibility and fully use existing infrastructure

●         Provides an updated operational timeline to further refine the procedural steps for recovery

●         Identifies future activities and commitments by AWBA, ADWR and CAP