Phillip Briggs was an engineer for the Arizona Interstate Stream Commission (now known as the Arizona Department of Water Resources), helping develop allocations for CAP water.

Phil Briggs: Allocating the water

(The story below is built around a recorded interview)

When Phil Briggs started with the Arizona Interstate Stream Commission in 1968, the Colorado River Basin Project Act had just been signed, authorizing construction of Central Arizona Project. One of the first tasks at hand was to develop a system to allocate water among stakeholders.

“The agency’s charge was to develop a system to allocate CAP water amongst competing interests,” said Briggs. “It was like about 1970 before we really kicked off a system, it was a system of models that we used to analyze future Arizona economy as well as hydrology in the basins.”

It was a state-of-the-art approach, taking into account the economy and population projections, and breaking those down to yield a demand for water; some of which was surface, some groundwater and some CAP water. From there, contracts were developed and offered. It took years before all offers were made and signed, which was good in hindsight as the population projections were far smaller than they turned out to be.

“We never saw this kind of growth when we were projecting, but oddly enough, the systems that were created were malleable enough and had enough opportunities to adjust them,” said Briggs.

Briggs is proud of the impact his work has had related to  Arizona’s water, starting from scratch, and making a significant impact to what Arizona is today, and where it’s going to go and the quality of life we have.

“I think CAP had the potential to shape Arizona and it was moldable in what started out being an agricultural project and it eventually worked its way into being a municipal water supply,” said Briggs.

Read Phillip Giles Briggs' Oral History Transcript
Listen to Phillip Giles Briggs' Interview