The Non-Indian Agricultural (NIA) priority pool refers to water that was originally designated for agricultural use, excluding tribes. It is primarily available to cities, industries and tribes.
CAP water began flowing in 1985, and shortly after, CAP water was too expensive for many irrigation districts compared to pumping groundwater. In the early 1990s, this led to a decade of litigation and negotiations, culminating in the 2004 Arizona Water Settlements Act and a reconfiguration of the CAP priority system.
Agricultural entitlements were relinquished by the irrigation districts and converted from percentage of supply to fixed volumes. In exchange for giving up their long-term rights, the irrigation districts were given access to a lower-cost fixed volume of even lower priority water. Access to this Agricultural Settlement Pool (Ag Pool) water expires in 2030.
The NIA priority water was then allocated to tribes, cities and towns, and some was held back for future allocation. “NIA priority water” relates to the lineage of the term and not to the way it’s used today.
The Arizona Water Settlements Act and the Arizona Water Settlement Agreement provided for the reallocation of 96,295 acre-feet of relinquished NIA Priority CAP water. The stakeholder process included the 2013 NIA reallocation process applications, comments and responses and a 2014 Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) Letter of Recommendation to Secretary Jewell & Supporting Documentation.
The ADWR is responsible for making the NIA reallocation recommendations to the Secretary of the Interior. For more information, visit the ADWR website.