Topic: Water Rights

Keyword: Arizona


Arizona's drought plan will spread the pain

Excerpt: “Everyone will feel pain” was the mantra emanating from supporters of Arizona’s drought plan for the Colorado River as it wound through the Legislature.

Excerpt: The cuts are needed for Arizona to be able to leave more water in Lake Mead, to prevent the lake from falling so far as to require deeper and more severe cuts than those expected under this drought plan. Legislation allowing the plan to move forward in Arizona passed by wide, bipartisan margins in the House and Senate on Thursday.

Benefits of water released into Colorado River

Excerpt: Four years after water was released from the Morelos Dam near Yuma into the bone-dry delta of the Colorado River in Mexico, scientists say the environmental benefits of the controlled flooding continue.

Excerpt: Scientists have been monitoring how that water has affected the ecosystem and released a report on Friday with their latest findings.

Excerpt: "What we've been learning all along is that with a little bit of water at just the right time and just the right place you can bring back a lot of the green that used to be in the Colorado Delta," said University of Arizona's Karl Flessa.

Business H2O: Water Innovation Summit

Excerpt: The United States and Arizona Chambers of Commerce hosted a conference this week in Phoenix looking at what organizers call “corporate water stewardship.”

The “Business H2O: Water Innovation Summit” brought together business and water leaders from around the state and country — and those from Israel.

The Show talked to two of the participants — Josh Kram, senior director for Middle East Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Oded Distel, the director of Israel New Tech at the Ministry of Economy in Israel.

Jan. 31 deadline for drought deal

Excerpt: The head of the federal agency controlling the Colorado River said Thursday the U.S. government will impose unprecedented restrictions on water supplies to the seven Southwestern U.S. states that depend on the river unless everyone agrees by Jan. 31 on a plan to deal with an expected shortage in 2020.

Excerpt: A drought-shortage declaration next year would cut 11.4 percent of Arizona’s usual river water allocation beginning in 2020, and 4.3 percent of Nevada’s share. That amount of water, combined, would serve more than 625,000 homes. California would voluntarily reduce its Colorado River use by about 6 percent.

Excerpt: “To me, the best way of conserving water is not to use it,” he said before adding that he knew that would mean limiting growth so as not to continue to drain the Colorado River.

Old rule could let New Mexico use Arizona water

Excerpt: As Arizona officials laid the groundwork for the Central Arizona Project 50 years ago, they made promises that critics now say could imperil habitat, weaken river health amid worsening drought and cost taxpayers in a big way.

Excerpt: The deal was struck in the mid-1960s in "a year of dogged, plodding progress" for Arizona's future on the Colorado River. Written records tell stories of litigation, debates and accusations of taking the copper state's water for "ransom" as Arizona struggled to win approval for the massive water project.

Excerpt: CAP neither endorses or opposes the New Mexico Unit. The agreement was in place decades before current CAP water managers were in their roles, and they don't have any standing to get involved, McCann said.

"We did this for political reasons," he said. "We needed New Mexico to pass it."

Mohave County Board of Supervisors move forward in water battle

Excerpt: In July, the district passed a resolution that would allow the transfer of Colorado River water outside of its boundaries through a rotational fallowing program.

The Board of Supervisors’ claim that the decision contradicts the district’s policy that forbids the transfer of Colorado River water outside its boundaries and that the district’s board failed to disclose personal conflicts of interest before the decision was made.

Excerpt: “If the county is required to bring suit, it will likewise pursue equitable relief, which may include, but would not be limited to, declaratory, injunctive and mandamus relief,” the claim states. “A notice of claim is not required prior to seeking equitable relief, but the county is putting MVIDD on notice that unless the (resolution passed in July) is vacated and (the policy that forbids the transfer of Colorado River water outside the district) is reinstated (and) until MVIDD complies with all conflict disclosure requirements, then the county will pursue equitable relief in addition to monetary damages.”

Steering committee begins work on drought plan

Excerpt: “Everybody has water concerns,” said Mohave County District 5 Sup. Lois Wakimoto, steering committee representative. “The four key elements for DCP implementation are going to be agricultural mitigation, tribal intentionally created surplus, Arizona conservation plans and excess water.”

Excerpt: The plan works to reduce reduction risks by requiring additional incremental water-delivery reductions by Arizona water users, primarily Central Arizona Project water users and most significantly, CAP non-Indian agricultural water users, who would bear the brunt of a Tier 1 shortage.

Excerpt: Arizona Department of Water Resources and Central Arizona Water Conservation District representatives announced the formation of the steering committee at a joint briefing in May. Delegates to the steering committee were by invitation jointly provided by ADWR and CAWCD.

MVIDD board eliminates prohibition on water leaving the district

Excerpt: Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District board voted unanimously Tuesday to overturn resolution 90-01, which prohibited the movement of contracted Colorado River water outside the district’s boundaries.

Excerpt: The resolution modification was introduced to the public by board members in March while the MVIDD was negotiating with Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District, the agency representing Central Arizona Water Conservation District, also known as Central Arizona Project, on a proposed fallowing program.

Excerpt: The proposed resolution also notes “the District may undertake to develop a rotational land fallowing program designed to make water available outside District boundaries for a defined program period, but not in perpetuity.”

Pinal farmers concerned about water reductions

Excerpt: In order to keep Lake Mead, and the Colorado River, from falling into critical shortages, key water agencies in Arizona are proposing reductions in water priority pools, with Pinal County farmers taking the brunt of reductions if mitigation plans are not put in place as the drought contingency plan moves through the state Legislature.

Excerpt: Proposed reductions have the entire agriculture pool of Central Arizona Project surface water being slashed if Lake Mead goes into a Tier 1 shortage — below 1,075 feet elevation. This year analysts set Lake Mead at just 1,083 feet.

Excerpt: “If we have a 50 percent cut in our water supplies, that’s substantial, but we think we can handle it,” Betcher said. “But there will be some reductions in farming, hopefully not enough to make it a huge economic negative. If we lose substantially more than that, it’ll be a huge economic hit.”

Dire challenges facing Colorado River water lifeline

Excerpt: A bruising battle between the Central Arizona Project and many states and water users has revitalized the push for a stillborn plan to prepare for more drought on the Colorado River.

Excerpt: That's prompted new talks to try to also resolve longstanding differences with another of CAP's adversaries, the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

Excerpt: More work will be needed because the feds have warned that future climate change will reduce river flows enough to create a three-million acre-foot gap between water use and supply — more than double the river's current deficit.

But if everyone is sitting in separate corners, primed for a fight, "We certainly don’t have the time, bandwidth and political will to do it," Mulroy said.

Colorado River future could hinge on little-known California election

Excerpt: A few thousand votes in California's Imperial Valley could have major consequences for millions of people who depend on water from the Colorado River.

Excerpt: Imperial Valley voters will decide June 5 whether to remake the board of directors of the Imperial Irrigation District, or IID, which controls the single largest share of Colorado River water. Three of the five seats on the agency's board are up for grabs, and local farmers are opening their wallets to influence the results.

Excerpt: "Here's what voters need to ask themselves about Imperial Valley First: Who are they and why isn't 97.5 percent of the water enough for them?" Hanks wrote.

Hanks and Galindo are supporting Salas' challenger for the IID board, El Centro city councilmember Alex Cardenas. At his recent debate against Salas, Cardenas said the agency had no choice but to appeal the judge's ruling in the Abatti water lawsuit.

"As much as I would long to see the community settle our disputes and take this out of the hands of the appellate court, I believe that that ship has sailed," Cardenas said. "I'm here to tell you that a settlement is not an option, that (the) appeal needs to continue so that we can act in the best interest of all water users in this county."

Water agencies to work on river plan

Excerpt: The Arizona Department of Water Resources and the Central Arizona Water Conservation District issued a joint statement Thursday declaring their intention to work together toward an interstate conservation agreement known as the DCP, or drought contingency plan.

Excerpt: "ADWR and CAWCD are committed to bringing DCP to closure in Arizona by addressing a broad range of issues that respect the concerns of all stakeholders across the state," the statement reads. "The discussions between ADWR and CAWCD are only the first step in a process that will expand to include participation by stakeholders."

Excerpt: Shortages are triggered by specific water levels in Lake Mead, which stores water for use by Arizona, Nevada, California and Mexico. The first shortage trigger is at elevation 1,075 feet above sea level, about nine feet below the current water level. Forecasters do not anticipate the reservoir will reach the shortage trigger this year.

County applies to transfer water rights within MVIDD

Excerpt: The Mohave County Board of Supervisors on Monday took the next step in transferring the water rights from a 15-acre property the county recently purchased.

Excerpt: The supervisors also met in closed session to hear an update on the county’s legal position in the transfer of Colorado River water rights from the MVIDD to the Central Arizona Project. CAP is seeking to buy seven Mohave Valley farms for $34 million to transfer the water rights to the Phoenix and Tucson areas.

Excerpt: The supervisors also voted to hold a public hearing May 7 on a change to the anti-littering ordinance dealing with clarifying the ERACE reward program for reporting illegal dumping.

Dismal forecast for Lake Powell runoff heightens future CAP shortage risk

Excerpt: Federal forecasters predicted last week that the spring-summer runoff into Lake Powell will be only 43 percent of normal this year. That’s due in part to a poor winter snowpack season and an expectation that the next two months’ weather will be about normal.

Excerpt: Lake Powell sends its runoff into Lake Mead. There, water is stored for future deliveries for the $4 billion CAP. It provides drinking water to Tucson and Phoenix and irrigation water to Pinal and Maricopa county farmers.

Excerpt: One thing looking increasingly unlikely is for another “Miracle May” to bail out the river system as it did in May 2015. Heavy rains in Colorado that month prevented a shortage that had seemed almost certain.

That year, the spring-summer runoff forecast in mid-April was 300,000 acre feet higher than the current forecast, hydrologist Smith said.

A Miracle May this year is “not out of the range of possibility but it’s a very low probability.”

CAWCD drops request to vacate judgment against use of sovereign immunity

Excerpt: In an abrupt about-face, Central Arizona Water Conservation District has withdrawn a court request to vacate a 2015 judgment barring it from claiming sovereign immunity in lawsuits.

Excerpt: Attorneys for the State of Arizona, acting through the Arizona Department of Water Resources, filed a friend of the court brief in early March opposing CAWCD’s request that the court vacate its 2015 judgment.

Excerpt: “On behalf of the Mohave County Water Authority and Mohave County, we let them know that we would like to keep our water in our area so that we can experience the same great growth that the central counties have experienced,” Wakimoto said. “They’ve been able to use water to continue their growth; we just want to keep our water here so we can continue our growth.”

CAGRD in talks with state about Mohave Valley primary water rights

Excerpt: Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District is seeking a process to change the place and purpose of use of Present Perfected Rights attached to seven Mohave Valley farms.

Excerpt: The meeting’s purpose was to seek a process to “add a second place and purpose of use for the entitlements that it acquires to support diversion and use of water for groundwater replenishment purposes when CAWCD’s lands (or lands owned by other participating landowners in MVIDD) are being fallowed,” should the transaction be completed, wrote Perri Benemelis, CAGRD manager.

Excerpt: “But it is not up to us and they may not need our approval for that alone,” Muscelli added. “There may be other reasons for this application, which I don’t understand at this time. They tell us that it would be subject to and under a district-approved fallowing program, which doesn’t exactly reconcile in my mind. If there is to be any transfers — big if — it needs to be controlled and regulated by a district-approved fallowing program. PPR water can be part of that in my opinion. I might be misunderstanding something, but I expect that CAGRD will come around to this view of the matter for which they already verbally assure us.”

Four states that also get Colorado River water say CAP keeps too much for Arizona

Excerpt: The agency that runs the $4 billion Central Arizona Project is being accused of manipulating Colorado River reservoirs%u2019 operations to suck out more water for its Tucson, Phoenix and Pinal County customers.

Excerpt: Under criticism is CAP’s practice of limiting how much river water it conserves each year, in order to prop up Lake Mead’s declining reservoir levels. The CAP has resisted pressure from other water agencies in Arizona to boost its conservation beyond about 200,000 acre-feet a year, enough to cover that many football fields a foot deep.

Excerpt: Paul Orme, an attorney for four irrigation districts in Central Arizona, said he continues to support CAP. Farmers will be the first to lose water during a shortage and they’re more interested in year-to-year releases, Orme said.

“What they are doing is permitted under the (2007) guidelines,” Orme said, referring to the CAP. “I know the Upper Basin says they’re not in the spirit of the guidelines, but they’re in the letter of the guidelines.”

CAP makes presentation on water plan

Excerpt: About 120 area residents squeezed into the Mohave Valley Irrigation & Drainage District office Tuesday to hear a presentation by a Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District representative regarding the transfer of water rights from farms in Mohave Valley for use in the Phoenix and Tucson areas.

Excerpt: Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City councils and the Mohave County Board of Supervisors all have passed resolutions objecting to the acquisition of water rights by Central Arizona Water Conservation District and any movement of the water outside the district. The CAWCD uses water the CAGRD acquires.

Excerpt: “It’s not just the district that they will be dealing with,” Clark said. “CAP would have to come to the district and request that some of the policies that the district has in place would need to be changed to allow for the transfer of water.”

Mohave County supervisors hire water lawyers

Excerpt: Mohave County Board of Supervisors agreed to a lucrative contract for legal representation and lobbying efforts regarding water issues.

Excerpt: To date, Mohave County has spent $480,000 in a legal fight that went all the way up the judicial chain to the Arizona Supreme Court, which ruled in 2015 the county didn’t have the right to block the transfer of water out of the area, approximately 20 miles as the crow flies southeast of Lake Havasu City.

Excerpt: “My position is that we need representation at the state level on water issues,” said Supervisor Steve Moss adding that the contract did not seek to only protect Kingman’s groundwater, but Lake Havasu and Bullhead cities’ surface water issues as well.

War of words flares in Arizona over Lake Mead

Excerpt: Officials in Arizona have reached an impasse on a multistate agreement aimed at storing more Colorado River water in Lake Mead, but Southern Nevada Water Authority chief John Entsminger said he is confident the deal will still get done.

Excerpt: Board members Alexandra Arboleda and Mark Taylor from the Central Arizona Water Conservation District got things started on April 21, when they floated an alternate plan in the state’s largest newspaper to artificially keep Lake Mead just above the trigger point for a shortage, a move they said would force the release of more water from Lake Powell upstream while lessening the need for water reductions in Arizona.

Excerpt: The Colorado supplies water and power to 30 million people in seven Western states and irrigates $1.5 billion of crops a year. The Las Vegas Valley draws 90 percent of its drinking water from the Colorado by way of Lake Mead, which has seen its surface drop by roughly 130 feet since drought descended on the river in 2000.

Early snowpack Forecasts

Excerpt: Snow is piling up in the Rockies and Sierra Nevada, but this year’s first official water forecast for the Colorado River still predicts Lake Mead will shrink enough to trigger a federal shortage declaration in 2018.

Excerpt: Nevada, California and Arizona are closing in on a drought contingency plan, under which the states would voluntarily reduce their use of Colorado River water to prop up the reservoir. Arizona and Nevada would bear the brunt of the cuts early on, but California would also accept reductions to its share of the river for the first time under the deal.

Excerpt: Entsminger said he’s optimistic that the deals will get done sometime this year.

Arizona seeks ways to prop up Lake Mead

Excerpt: Arizona is closing in on a set of water conservation deals that leaders hope will prop up storage in Lake Mead, and forestall painful and chaotic shortages for at least a few years.

Excerpt: A deep winter snowpack like what's begun building in the Rocky Mountains this year could delay the cuts, but experts agree the system is essentially overdrawn and bold action is necessary soon regardless of weather.

Excerpt: Ultimately the fear is that a worsening shortage could drop the reservoir below 1,025 feet. That's below the elevations where states have agreed on the consequences, and it would invite radical and unpredictable rationing from the U.S. Interior Department.

Fill Mead First plan

Excerpt: Utah State University scientists urge caution in implementing the widely publicized Fill Mead First plan aimed at restoring the canyon. The massive plan calls for partially or completely draining Lake Powell, the reservoir formed by the dam, and collecting the water downstream in Lake Mead, the reservoir formed by Hoover Dam.

Excerpt: He and colleagues found evaporation losses at Lake Mead are measured by the U.S. Geological Survey in a state-of-the-science program, but there have been no efforts to measure evaporation at Lake Powell since the mid-1970s. No studies have been conducted since the mid-1980s estimating how much reservoir water moves into the bedrock that surrounds Lake Powell. Using the most-recent data, USU researchers showed evaporation losses would be slightly less if the proposed plan was implemented, but the uncertainty in this prediction is large.

Colorado River Indian Tribes Sign Water Deal

Excerpt: A deal between a coalition of tribes and the Lower Colorado Region of the Bureau of Reclamation aims to address concerns over drought and water levels in the nation’s largest reservoir. The deal is also an economic boost for the tribes.

Excerpt: "The State of Arizona is in great need of water," CRIT Tribal chairman Dennis Patch said. "If we're able to fix our system and allow us to irrigate what lands we have now and with the conservation methods..that will give us more water to make a water deal to help the state and overall the region."

August Colorado River Briefing

Excerpt: The bottom line from the federal report indicated that water levels from Colorado River water entering Lake Mead will be enough to keep the system from falling into the first allocation-shortage declaration in the system’s history.

Excerpt: The Water Resources director spelled out to the audience some sobering facts about what it may take to stabilize Lake Mead should the reservoir descend to critical levels.

By 2023, for example, it would take 3 million acre-feet of water in a single year to protect the reservoir, should nothing be done now to stave off that uncertain future. Other scenarios that include the effects of climate change, he said, could double the amounts of water needed.

Excerpt: Cooke’s organization, the CAP, has just launched a multi-media campaign – “Protect Lake Mead” – dedicated to increasing public awareness about the vital nature of Lake Mead to the entire Southwest.

Lake Mead to skirt shortage line

Excerpt: Despite sinking to a record low in early July, Lake Mead should be just full enough on Jan. 1 to avoid an unprecedented federal shortage declaration for at least one more year.

Excerpt: Decisive projections released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation call for the reservoir east of Las Vegas to start 2017 with a surface elevation of about 1,079 feet above sea level. That’s roughly 4 feet above the line that would force Nevada and Arizona to cut their Colorado River water use.

Excerpt: Water officials in Nevada, Arizona and California hope to further delay the first official shortage on the Colorado through a series of voluntary cuts now being discussed.

By the end of the year, the three states hope to finalize a landmark deal under which Arizona would shoulder the largest cuts and California would accept reductions to its river use for the first time.

Lake Mead water

Excerpt: Even after nearly 17 years of drought, there has not been a lot of fightin’ among the Southwestern states over the dwindling supplies of water in Lake Mead.

In fact, the level of cooperation among Arizona, Nevada and California, as well as the federal government, is a big part of why the federal Bureau of Reclamation likely will not issue a “shortfall” declaration in 2017 to protect water levels in Lake Mead.

That became clear this week when the Bureau of Reclamation released its 24-month forecast for the Colorado River system. Reclamation concluded Lake Mead most likely will finish the current year above the shortage triggering level. Not by much, mind you – just four feet or so. But by enough.

Excerpt: Since 2007, various water partners in the Lower Basin of the Colorado River have struck four major agreements to leave portions of their river allocations in Lake Mead. Including a big contribution from Mexico, those agreements added ten feet to Lake Mead’s water levels between 2007 and now.

So do the math: If the states had succumbed to that urge to fight over water rather than cooperate and, as a result, had added nothing to keep Lake Mead from falling to critical levels, then Mead right now would be at least five feet below the level that would trigger a federal declaration reducing Arizona’s river allocation severely.

Agreement protects Arizona's cut of Colorado River

Excerpt: California and Nevada won't be able to take any of the water that Arizona has been storing in Lake Mead at least through the end of this year, a top U.S. Interior Department official said this week.

Excerpt: By the end of this year, Arizona, Nevada and California will have left more than 400,000 acre feet of water since 2014 in the declining Lake Mead that they have the right to use but have decided not to. They have jointly agreed to do that to try to slow the rate of decline at the lake. It has dropped steadily since the ongoing, regional drought began in about 2000.

Arizona Water Initiative starts

Excerpt: The Mohave County Board of Supervisors requested the basins here be a top priority, as some of the largest water basins in the state are in the county. The state agreed and Kingman is home to the first of many that will be held in the state to examine the demand for water and the potential challenges in meeting that demand.

Excerpt: While Water Resources will work with local governments on defining the challenges and developing strategies, Mohave County is home to a large farming operation along Stockton Hill Road between Kingman and Pierce Ferry Road, and in Red Lake and Golden Valley. Also, a nut farm is going in off of Route 66 between Kingman and Valle Vista.

Excerpt: Farmers are leaving drought-stricken, heavily-regulated California by the droves and many are heading straight to Arizona, according to Supervisor Buster Johnson.

Drought contingency plans discussed

Excerpt: About 20 Yumans gathered at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Yuma Area Office to get a glimpse of efforts to keep more water in the Colorado River system to compensate for drought and reduce the chances of a calamitous drop in the water level of Lake Mead.

Excerpt: Negotiations are currently underway between the three states on a “drought contingency proposal,” which would contain voluntary water delivery reductions from all three in an effort to keep Lake Mead at the 1,075-foot level needed to avoid declaration of a shortage across the region, or at least from going too far below that point.

Excerpt: This was the second annual such workshop sponsored by ADWR and CAP in Phoenix, and the first to be webcast to Yuma after Paul Muthart, general manager of Pasquinelli Produce, made the suggestion to the ADWR. Webcasts to CAP offices in Phoenix and Tucson were already planned.

Arizona officials call for tightened limits on Lake Mead water use

Excerpt: Arizona officials said Tuesday it is time to end the "gentleman's agreement" currently governing states' use of water from Lake Mead and instead put tougher restrictions into law.

Excerpt: Buschatzke told a Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee that so far this year, Arizona has put 165,000 acre feet of water it has conserved into Lake Mead, a number that is expected to grow to 215,000 acre feet by the end of the year. The state wants to make sure that water is there for its use in the future and is not taken out and used by other states as is happening now, he said.

Excerpt: Lake Mead elevations are a concern because if the water in the lake drops below a certain level it triggers a shortage declaration that requires water usage restrictions. Arizona has contributing to that effort by placing conserved water in the lake, and Buschatzke said residents and water officials want to see the water stay there to serve that purpose.

Arizona may give up even more Colorado River water

Excerpt: Recent negotiations could lead to bigger water cuts for Arizona and Nevada if a shortage is declared on the Colorado River.

Excerpt: The U.S. Department of the Interior would take charge of water allocation if the reservoir's elevation were to sink to 1,025 feet. That could leave the Central Arizona Project without access, based on its junior rights to the river. But that’s up to the discretion of the Interior, said Theodore Cooke, general manager at the Central Arizona Project.

Excerpt: Representatives from both Nevada and California said it was too soon to talk specifics, but the Arizona Department of Water Resources reviewed the plan with the Southern Arizona Water Users Association last week.

That presentation included the following cuts:

Arizona would lose 512,000 acre-feet of its share if a first-level shortage is declared, compared with the 320,000 acre-feet it had agreed to cut based on 2007 negotiations
Nevada would sacrifice 21,000 acre-feet, up from its original 13,000.
Both Arizona and Nevada would take reductions even without a shortage, but Cooke pointed out that Arizona has already been conserving a comparable amount so this would not affect a major change here. Nevada also has been conserving water in Lake Mead through that same agreement.
The Bureau of Reclamation, which manages Lake Mead, would find ways to save 100,000 acre-feet per year.
California would take a cut of 200,000 acre-feet but only if the shortage worsened. At that point, Arizona would have to give up much more.

California nut farm's move to Arizona raises water concerns

Excerpt: A farm operation that is moving from California to Arizona to raise almonds and other nuts has raised concern about whether it will deplete water supplies in Mohave County.

Excerpt: Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson said the fully planted farm will use nearly 8 billion gallons of water annually.

Excerpt: He said several companies are choosing Arizona as a logical place to move amid drought-related water restrictions in California and other parts of the world.

"The recent loss of water rights on the Big Sandy, coupled with the increased farming activity in the Hualapai Valley and Sacramento basins near Kingman, brings concerns to the longevity of adequate water supplies for Mohave County," said Johnson.

Arizona, Mohave County In Water Rights Dispute

Excerpt: The Mohave Daily News reports the county and the state of Arizona are fighting over whether or not county water rights can be transferred to a mine in Bagdad.

Excerpt: The Arizona Supreme Court ruled against Mohave County earlier this year, but officials in the county say losing the water rights would result in a drop in property tax revenue that would then impact infrastructure and public safety.

Groundwater regulation in rural AZ

Excerpt: Political leaders, farmers and residents in several Arizona counties want to crack down on unchecked groundwater pumping as fears rise in rural areas that the lawless access to water they enjoyed for decades may leave future generations scrambling.

Excerpt: The Phoenix and Tucson areas bucked that trend, as water levels in more than half of the wells in their basins documented by the USGS actually rose. These areas are under tight groundwater-pumping restrictions and depend heavily on the Colorado River for supply.

Excerpt: "There are no limits in most of these areas about who can drill a well where and how big and how much they can pump," said Ferris, who is the director of the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association. "It's a recipe for disaster."

Excerpt: "There is still a lot more work that needs to be done, not only for our urban areas and our agricultural industry but for our outlying rural areas," he told The Arizona Republic. "Doing the right things to take care of those rural needs is something we're going to focus on this session."

Arizona faces challenges, but it's no California

Excerpt: Arizona’s water future is in the hands of today’s leaders and informed voters, just as it was when the state envisioned the big dams and canals now supplying the state, experts said at a water-outlook conference on Tuesday.

Excerpt: Unlike crisis-stricken California, Arizona cities have years of supply stored in underground aquifers ready to fill in for a number of years if a shortage of Colorado River water occurs.

Excerpt: Solving water scarcity without further depleting natural springs and the people and ecosystems relying on them is as essential as life itself, said Vincent Randall, a former chairman of the Yavapai-Apache Nation.

El Nińo may save Arizona from CAP shortage

Excerpt: They delayed a water shortage for the Central Arizona Project that many officials had feared was imminent. The Colorado rainfall landed in the Upper Colorado River and its tributaries, and from there headed south and west, first to Lake Powell, then to Lake Mead. Much of that water will ultimately go into the CAP, a 336-mile-long system of canals and aqueducts that brings river water to Tucson and Phoenix.

The event shows how lucky Arizona has been when it comes to weather compared to California, which has been hit by severe water shortages due to drought over the past few years.

Excerpt: How did we avoid that? A partial cause could have been El Nińo, the cyclical weather event triggered by periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central equatorial Pacific. An errant jet stream storm track that bypassed California in favor of the Great Basin and Colorado also helped, experts say. But weather forecasters and analysts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration aren’t ready to credit El Nińo.

Excerpt: In the winter, Colorado’s high mountains often miss out on precipitation. But if they get 90 percent of normal snowpack or greater by the end of February, there’s a good chance of precipitation and runoff increasing into the spring, Wolter said. If El Nińo precipitation continues into spring, odds of runoff increase in April.

Arizona's new water rush raising tensions

Excerpt: Farmers from California and Arizona are pushing to drill wells and pump unregulated water in Cochise County, triggering intense rivalries and calls for a crackdown.

Excerpt: The state doesn’t regulate water use in mostly rural Cochise County, so landowners today can pump with no limits. That’s in sharp contrast to Pima and Maricopa counties, which have had broad pumping controls since passage of the Arizona Groundwater Management Act in 1980. The limits on new irrigation sought for the San Simon area is already in effect in the urban counties.

Excerpt: As acreage has doubled, so has the rate of decline in the water table, state figures show, and it’s likely to accelerate if more farmers start drilling. That’s why the limits on new farming are needed, the petitioners say.

ProPublica Investigates Colorado River Water Woes

Excerpt: The investigative journalism group ProPublica has been taking an in-depth look at the water crisis in the West, in a series that is focused on the Colorado River.

Excerpt: What he said he's learned is that, drought or no drought, water use is a policy and management issue. He said he hopes readers of his reports take away the same message. "First and foremost is a greater awareness of how the decisions that we make politically and the places that we put our money affect the water crisis," he said. "I'd like to see the smart people in the room make changes based on that realization."

Excerpt: The ProPublica series paints a grim picture at times, from lack of federal oversight to feuds about water rights, to different states' and individuals' "use it or lose it" mentality about water. But according to its author, there's also hope for greater cooperation to help Westerners get through the drought. "What I hear from people I interview is, there's a lot of room in the law to allow sharing, transfers of rights, lesser usage of rights - while not threatening those rights," he said.

Gov. Ducey urges steps to protect Arizona water supply

Excerpt: Arizona has been able to withstand a 15-year arid spell through long-term planning and conservation without limitations, but dropping water levels at Lake Mead and possible shortages of Colorado River water could prompt major cuts in Arizona's supply by 2017.

Excerpt: Ducey stressed that Arizona has already taken much of the brunt of river shortages and said further actions wouldn't be fair. Arizona should not be forced to pay the price for California's inability to plan for drought, he said.

Excerpt: His comments come at a time when water managers in Arizona, Nevada and California are limiting the amount of water they are pulling from the Colorado River in an attempt to preserve the resource. Under an agreement reached late last year, Arizona will forego 345,000 acre feet of water over three years.

Arizona hopes for more control of its water

Excerpt: Arizona wants more control of its water resources as the ongoing drought in Western states brings the likelihood of further shortages to the region, a state official testified Tuesday.

Excerpt: Tom Buschatzke, the director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, also told a Senate committee that any solution to the region’s water woes should “benefit the entire Colorado River system rather than any one particular Colorado River water user.”

Excerpt: He said that drought conditions are nothing new to Arizona, a desert state where residents have long known the value of water – and planned for it.

Excerpt: If water levels in Lake Mead fall below an elevation 1,075 feet, it requires a declaration by the federal government of a “Tier 1″ shortage on the river which, in turn, triggers a reduction in the amount of water states can draw from the river.

For Arizona, a Tier 1 shortage would mean the loss of 320,000 of its annual 2.8 million acre-feet allocation of the river’s water, he said.

Colorado in Grand Canyon rated No. 1 endangered river

Excerpt: The Grand Canyon stretch of the Colorado tops American Rivers' list of endangered rivers this year because of cumulative threats to scenery and spring water from commercial and residential development plans, and from a push to restart major uranium mining.

Excerpt: A gondola-tramway plan that would drop up to 10,000 tourists daily a few thousand feet down to the canyon bottom on the river's south side helped push the Grand Canyon section of the Colorado to the top of this year's list.

Excerpt: Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told The Arizona Republic that the Interior Department's ban — a 20-year moratorium on new claims — was politically motivated and not backed by science.

"Ensuring a clean and safe Colorado River is in the best interest of every Arizonan," he said in an e-mailed statement, "and measures to do so, especially those that will eliminate economic opportunities, ought to reflect the best available science."

Parched: Arizona's shrinking aquifers

Excerpt: Arizona relies on groundwater for 40 percent of its water supply -- and that's a figure that took decades of political and economic wrangling to achieve. Facing major groundwater overdrafts in the 1970s, leaders launched the Central Arizona Project to bring Colorado River water to major metropolitan areas and enacted laws limiting pumping and banning irrigation expansion in critical areas.

Excerpt: But expect the focus on groundwater health to intensify. If the Colorado River is declared in a shortage, farmers around Phoenix expect to begin drilling again or, if they already are, increase their groundwater intake, Corkhill said.

How not to squander Arizona's water legacy

Excerpt: The Salt River Project, the Central Arizona Project and the Groundwater Management Act are all examples of Arizonans recognizing critical needs and creating structures to deliver and manage our water supplies. More recently, the Groundwater Replenishment District and the Arizona Water Bank were formed to create more options for water preservation.

Excerpt: That legacy has enabled us to weather the current prolonged drought far more easily than other Western states, even while preserving agricultural use, holding down municipal water rates, avoiding mandatory rationing and banking water for future needs. As a state, we are currently using about the same amount of water we did in 1960, even as the population has increased nearly fivefold.

Excerpt: The issues of sharing, developing and managing water are at the center of our civilization in the arid Southwest. The Anasazi, the Hohokam and our Hispanic and Anglo forefathers all realized this. The legacy is ours to share, to celebrate and to protect. Let's get on with it.

Burning lemon trees in Yuma could mean water for Valley

Excerpt: Smoke rising from groves of lemon trees offers one dramatic visual clue to Arizona's increasingly complex water future: Groves here are going fallow, for a price, to test how much moisture farmers could spare for urban development.

Excerpt: But if the state continues to grow while, as government scientists predict, climate change continues to shrink the Colorado River, something has to give. Some of this region's farms are likely to prime the pump for profit.

Excerpt: The groundwater district is coming for a new dip into the river at exactly the time that other users fear the competition. Cities, including Phoenix, Mesa and Tempe, in the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association use CAP water directly instead of as an aquifer recharge.

"There's a lot of competition. There are shortages on the river that we're trying to deal with," association Executive Director Kathleen Ferris said.

"There is continuing concern within (the municipal suppliers) that this paradigm of allowing growth to proceed before water is in hand is not sustainable."

Study Urges Reuse and Conservation

Excerpt: Water conservation and reuse are being urged in a study that makes recommendations about addressing the Colorado River drought, which threatens the future well-being of Arizona and six other Western states.

Excerpt: He says everyone can all help out by trying to use less water in daily life. "People in Arizona can help save water by installing more efficient faucets, toilets, and switching to a desert landscape which requires far less water,” he points out. “We can all do our part and help ensure that we have enough water for the future." Rice adds the last decade of severe drought has left Colorado River levels at the two main storage reservoirs, Lake Mead in Nevada and Lake Powell in Utah, at historically low levels.

Water attorney warns of continuing drought

Excerpt: The Yuma area has extraordinary soil and water rights from the Colorado River to produce lush fields of fresh vegetables and other crops that help feed the nation.

But those legal rights to water might not be worth much if the lingering drought in the Southwest continues, warned a leading local water expert.

Excerpt: According to guidelines worked out in 2007, reductions in apportionments will be imposed when Lake Mead falls below 1,075 feet, with Arizona and Nevada sharing in shortages. Mexico also voluntarily agreed in Minute 319 to accept reduced deliveries. There would be no reductions to California.

Excerpt: He suggests a third option: "People get together now and get really serious about keeping water in the lake. We all need to decide where we stand. We can refuse to consider doing anything differently. Or we see what we can do to impact the results."

Colorado River Water Managers Plan for Persistent Drought

Excerpt: The severe risks of an extended drought in the Colorado River Basin – a shutdown of hydropower generation, functionally empty lakes, and restrictions on water use – are forcing the basin’s seven states to consider unprecedented changes in how they manage a scarce resource.

Excerpt: “We’ve never had to do this before because we never planned for this degree of low water storage,” Don Ostler, executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission, an administrative body, told Circle of Blue. “We want to plan for extreme hydrology the likes of which we have never seen.”

Excerpt: “We’re certainly having discussions about existing drought and contingency planning for an ongoing sustained drought,” said Colby Pellegrino, who handles Colorado River issues for Southern Nevada Water Authority, the state’s largest water utility. “But we’re not to a point where we can say what those options will be.”

Arizona’s long-term water future

Excerpt: More than century of planning has brought Arizona to this point, starting with the Salt River Project and decades of arduous negotiations that led to a supply of Colorado River water. So have the landmark Groundwater Management Act of 1980 and a system of banking some of the state’s Colorado River allotment in aquifers.

Excerpt: In January, an Arizona Department of Water Resources report pointed to the potential for a long-term imbalance between available water and demands over the next century. It said that Arizona will need to develop additional water supplies over the next 25 to 100 years to keep pace with growth.

Excerpt: “What we need right now is a deeper understanding by policymakers about what our situation is,” he said. “I want someone who will look at the complex solutions, not the short easy ones.”
Pickard, the CAP board president, said this election year will test which politicians are ready to make Arizona’s water future a priority.
“When Arizonans can unquestionably turn on the tap and get water without question, we’re doing our job,” she said. “We don’t want our customers to have to think about whether there will be water or not.”

There's no denying issues with Colorado River

Excerpt: Recently, the Colorado has been named America’s Most Endangered River, and for plenty of good reasons. In some places the Colorado River is drained dry, in others its flows are so depleted and manipulated that fish and wildlife are federally listed as “endangered,” and in yet others more dam/diversion/pipeline projects are proposed that would drain the last legally allowed drops of water out of the river.

Excerpt: Even as our populations grow, the climate is changing. We know that drought is likely to be the “new normal” in the Colorado River basin, and scientists tell us that climate change could reduce the amount of water in the Colorado River ecosystem by 9 to 20 percent. Predictions of the famed Lake Mead and Lake Powell being drained dry are a small but real part of this picture — Southern Nevada’s effort to build the “third straw” out of Lake Mead is a clear example of this threat.

Excerpt: The good news is that the federal government has stepped up its efforts to address our endangered river. But now it’s time for Congress to get into the act, too. Congress needs to provide more funding for water conservation programs throughout the basin, needs to support investments to increase the efficiency of water projects that are already built, and needs to provide funding to promote and protect the Colorado River itself.

Arizona water allocations

Excerpt: The decades of compacts, laws, contracts and regulatory guidelines that are supposed to manage bordering states’ use of the Colorado River have come to be known collectively as the “Law of the River.”

Excerpt: Ninety years after the first agreements were drawn up, and more than 50 years after the Supreme Court set water-use levels for Arizona and its neighbors, demand for Colorado River water continues to grow. But the amount of water flowing in the river, and the allotments of it to different users, remains the same.

Excerpt: Jobs like the large marine industry in Lake Havasu City that builds, services and repairs boats, said Gary Kellogg, president and CEO of the Lake Havasu Partnership for Economic Development.
“The water has a lot of uses out here,” Kellogg said. “We pump it to a lot of different cities, but since we are a tourism-based city, so many of our jobs here rely on the river.”
But of the 2.8 million acre feet of water the state can take from the Colorado River, “the vast majority is used for agriculture,” said Mitch Basefsky, a spokesman for the Central Arizona Water Conservation District.

Navajo Nation Water Rights

Excerpt: If we sound a little tentative on the subject, it's because of the mixed messages that were coming from all over the Rez as soon as U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl introduced the Little Colorado River settlement bill in February.
Now that the Navajo Nation Council has voted to oppose the bill as well as the underlying settlement, it's uncertain how or if any of the agreement's terms can be salvaged.

Excerpt: Flagstaff had a stake in the settlement because it would have legalized, without threat of future tribal litigation, its current use of Lake Mary and C-Aquifer wells inside the city limits for drinking water.
The two tribes contend they have historic rights to all groundwater and river water in the region, and without a settlement, Flagstaff could be back in court trying to defend its own historic claims to water inside its boundaries.

Excerpt: The tribes have a bird in the hand right now if they will only close their fist around it. Leave it open too much longer -- Kyl retires after this year -- and they will have ceded the issue back to unelected lawyers and the courts, which is not where such important issues should be decided.


Managing Water in the West
Established in 1902, the Bureau of Reclamation is best known for the dams, powerplants, and canals it constructed in the 17 western states. These water projects led to homesteading and promoted the economic development of the West. Reclamation has constructed more than 600 dams and reservoirs including Hoover Dam on the Colorado River and Grand Coulee on the Columbia River.