CAP Blog - Water Ways and Power Lines

Preparing for a Colorado River Shortage


Recently, Central Arizona Project General Manager David Modeer was interviewed by Bill Buckmaster of Tucson’s KVOI radio. Here are a few highlights from that Sept. 9 interview.


Recent headlines have reinforced that we could be looking at a very long “mega-drought.” CAP has been preparing for a shortage, but what are you doing to address the challenge of a potential decades-long drought?

It's becoming increasingly likely we'll see a shortage declared in 2017. CAP has been preparing for decades for cutbacks in our Colorado River allotment during a shortage by:

  • Storing millions of acre-feet underground for recovery when needed
  • Working with our agricultural customers to be sure they are as prepared as possible for a reduction in CAP supplies
  • Supporting municipal conservation through education, community grants and other programs

Even during a shortage, customers like Tucson, Phoenix and various Native American nations will NOT experience any cutbacks.



If the drought continues and Lake Mead falls below 1,025' – the worst shortage anticipated in the 2007 shortage sharing agreement – we are in uncharted territory. It's all the more important that we take steps now to avoid getting into that territory if we can. For instance, CAP is partnering with several other large water systems in California, Nevada and Colorado and the Bureau of Reclamation to fund programs and projects to reduce use of the river and leave the water in Lake Mead. These might include fallowing farmland or improving irrigation efficiency to reduce water use per acre. Municipal conservation programs are also being evaluated.

There are some long-term solutions, such as desalination, but we are focusing on shorter term programs that can provide measurable and predictable reductions in the use of Colorado River water, augment Lake Mead levels by temporarily foregoing our full state diversions, and identifying potential programs or projects that can add water to the river, such as the Yuma desalting plant.


This year Pima County will vote on who represents our county on the CAP Board. How important is it that people vote?

The CAP Board sets all of the policies that govern how CAP works, approves what we charge our customers for water, determines how we interact with other major water providers, and in general makes sure that the concerns of our customers and stakeholders are effectively addressed by CAP staff.



This year, the four members of the Board who represent Pima County and the one who represents Pinal County are up for election to a six-year seat on the Board. I know that the acronym CAWCD, which stands for Central Arizona Water Conservation District, is pretty obscure and a lot of people who see it on the ballot don't know that CAWCD operates and maintains the CAP system. Having a Board that represents the interests of our three-county service area is critical. About 80% of the people in Arizona live in those three counties – a huge portion of the state depends on CAP being operated efficiently and effectively.

I encourage all voters to educate themselves on what the CAWCD Board does and make sure they vote for their representatives. Information about the Board is available on our web site at

Has the EPA released its Nitrogen Oxide standards for the Navajo Generating Station?

Yes! We're very happy with the outcome. With only very minor changes, the EPA accepted the proposal made by CAP and other stakeholders as part of the Technical Work Group. Given that regulation of emissions at NGS was inevitable, we could not really have hoped for a better resolution.

Basically, the plant owners will turn off one of the three power generating units at NGS by the end of 2019 and then retrofit the other two units to reduce emissions by 2030. This not only achieves greater nitrogen reductions than the EPA initially proposed, but it also cuts CO2 and other emissions by 1/3rd by 2020.

Another critical victory for the compromise is that the EPA rule acknowledges that the modified NGS can stay in service for another 30 years. By that time, there should be alternative low-emission power resources that can provide the electricity CAP needs to pump water to our customers. The final rule is really a win for CAP and its customers.

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CAP Employee Focus: Joseph Gaylord, Protective Services Manager

This is the second in a series of profiles regarding the professionals who are responsible for Central Arizona Project’s operations.


In a nutshell, what do you do for CAP? 

I supervise CAP’s Protective Services department. Protective Services is made up of law enforcement officers and support staff members who have the responsibility of protecting employees, assets and overall security of the canal infrastructure. The officers are all certified law enforcement officers, which gives our employees a great resource in times of emergency. They have full power of arrest like any other officer.


Meeting the challenges of the structural deficit, population growth and climate change


Central Arizona Project is Arizona’s largest source of renewable water supplies—providing 500 billion gallons of water each year to residents, businesses and farms in central and southern Arizona. CAP’s impact goes beyond quenching thirst—it’s also an economic engine for the state, generating $100 billion in benefit each year.


BOR Calls for Water Conservation Proposals


Know of a water conservation project that could help in drought times? The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) has announced it is now soliciting water conservation project ideas from Colorado River contractors and tribes in Arizona, California and Nevada. 


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