The Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (CAGRD) helps property owners and water providers in the Phoenix, Tucson, and Pinal Active Management Areas (AMA) without access to sufficient renewable water supplies to demonstrate the required 100-year assured water supply under Arizona law. 

Currently, 23 water providers and cities in the state, as well as more than 260,000 homes, rely on the CAGRD for this reason. For more than 20 years, the CAGRD has played a critical role in the state’s successful water management program and has contributed to the State of Arizona’s economic growth and development.

The Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (CAGRD) is a division of CAP with special duties that were assigned to CAP in 1993 by the Arizona State Legislature. As its name suggests, the CAGRD replenishes, recharges, or otherwise replaces groundwater that is pumped by its members in the three counties of Maricopa, Pima, and Pinal. CAGRD members are those landowners, businesses, water providers, and cities that do not have the right or access (or enough of either) to renewable water supplies such as CAP water. Renewable water supplies are key here because Arizona prohibits a reliance on groundwater pumping to serve water needs. In simple terms, these entities that become CAGRD members are allowed to pump groundwater in excess of Arizona law only because the CAGRD will replace it later.

As the infographic shows, the CAGRD replenishes underground aquifers to replace groundwater used by homes and businesses. In turn, these members of the CAGRD pay for its operations through an assessment that is limited to only the amount of money needed to acquire water supplies, replenish groundwater pumping, and develop the necessary infrastructure to fulfill its statutory replenishment responsibilities.

Replacing groundwater used by central and southern Arizonans is an easy concept to grasp, but carrying out that mission requires complex data analysis, record keeping, tracking, regulatory reporting, and identification of available water supplies. Every 10 years, the CAGRD must submit a new Plan of Operation for approval by the Arizona Department of Water Resources that demonstrates how it intends to meet its annual replenishment obligations for current and prospective members for the next 20 years and then 80 years after that. CAGRD’s current Plan of Operation is effective from 2015 through 2024.

The CAGRD is statutorily obligated to develop or acquire renewable water supplies as needed to replace the groundwater pumped by its members (A.R.S. § 48-3771 et seq.). The CAGRD uses a variety of water supplies to meet its statutory replenishment obligation. Historically, the CAGRD relied on CAP water that was not used by CAP contractors in any given year, referred to as “excess” CAP water. This excess water, however, is becoming increasingly less available. In 2011, CAGRD implemented a water supply program and has successfully negotiated willing-seller/buyer agreements to acquire CAP Municipal & Industrial (M&I) entitlements, effluent, and long-term storage credits, as well as a lease of CAP Indian water.

Statute also requires the CAGRD to establish a “Replenishment Reserve” of long-term storage credits to ensure the CAGRD will always be able to meet its replenishment obligations even during times of water supply shortage.

For more information, please visit www.cagrd.com.