Why should we care about Lake Mead? The obvious answer, given the structural deficit, is ensuring a healthy Colorado River supply. But there’s perhaps a less obvious, but equally important, answer – Arizona’s economy.
According to a 2014 study commissioned by Central Arizona Project with the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, CAP delivery of Colorado River water from 1986 through 2010 has generated in excess of $1 trillion—that’s $1,090,000,000,000—of Arizona's gross state product (GSP). By delivering at least 1.5 million acre-feet (almost 500 billion gallons) of Colorado River water every year,
CAP has dramatically and positively changed the economic and environmental landscape of our state. Any disruption in the water supply would not only affect water users, it would have an impact on the economy, in general. That’s why economic factors are an important component of the Drought Contingency Plan CAP is working on with its partner agencies.
Other key findings from the study conducted by ASU’s L. William Seidman Research Institute included:
- CAP's supply of water to municipal industrial and agricultural customers in 2010 is estimated to have generated annual employment of more than 1.6 million jobs
- Government, healthcare, retail, real estate and travel sectors would have lost more than 60 percent of these jobs had the CAP water supply been unavailable
- If the recreational benefits and other impacts associated with the operation and maintenance of the aqueduct system and Lake Pleasant are added to the water supply analysis, statewide economic impacts of the operation of CAP would be even greater
To help protect the health and future of the entire Colorado River system, Arizona, Nevada, California and the Bureau of Reclamation are discussing new actions which, if implemented, will help CAP and its customers to have greater certainty about the longer-term reliability of the Colorado River, allowing CAP to continue supporting the economic and environmental health of central Arizona.