Within the most populous parts of central Arizona, groundwater management laws are designed to preserve this precious natural resource. This is especially important when it comes to new development.
In order for a developer to obtain a public report from the Department of Real Estate and sell lots, a new subdivision must demonstrate that it has a 100-year Assured Water Supply (AWS). Development that doesn’t have sufficient renewable water supplies, but has available groundwater supplies sufficient to meet its demands, can comply with the AWS requirements by joining the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (CAGRD).
CAGRD was created in 1993 by the Arizona State Legislature to provide an alternate mechanism for landowners and water providers to comply with the requirements of the Assured Water Supply program. Currently, CAGRD has 23 member water providers and cities. The economic value of CAGRD to the western part of the Salt River Valley is clear if you consider that virtually every home constructed since 2001 in Avondale, El Mirage, Goodyear and Surprise has relied on CAGRD membership.
Development in the west Salt River Valley occurred later in time than in the eastern part of the valley. In 1983 when the Secretary of Interior issued a decision to allocate Central Arizona Project (CAP) water, most west valley cities were very small in size and, if allocated any CAP water at all, received only relatively small volumes of CAP water. In fact, only 20% of renewable surface water supplies in the greater Phoenix metro area are held by west valley cities. Without CAGRD, opportunities for growth and economic development in the west valley would be extremely limited or, in some areas, non-existent.
CAGRD is not a water provider; it replenishes or replaces groundwater that is pumped by its members. CAGRD members are landowners, businesses, water providers, and cities that do not have sufficient renewable water supplies to meet their demands. In simple terms, CAGRD members have sufficient supplies of groundwater but must comply with the AWS program renewable water supply requirements through membership in CAGRD.
So, where does CAGRD get the water it needs to meet its replenishment obligation? In the early years of CAGRD, the supply was primarily excess CAP water; however, in 2012, CAGRD began a robust water supply acquisition program to develop additional supplies to meet its members’ needs. As part of that program, CAGRD has acquired a CAP subcontract for 8,300 acre-feet (AF) per year, has entered a public/private partnership to purchase 2,400 AF/year of effluent and has purchased more than 600,000 AF of long-term storage credits. CAGRD will continue to secure additional water supplies for its current and projected member’s demands. CAGRD is a unique program that supports both the economy and the future water sustainability of the state consistent with the vision of Arizona’s leaders.
For more information, please visit www.cagrd.com.