Bullhead City turns pond water into valuable resource to protect Colorado River System

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Crystal Thompson

Phoenix, Ariz. – Bullhead City, Ariz. has become the first Lower Basin municipality to participate in the Pilot System Conservation Program (PSCP), providing an innovative solution to water conservation that will ultimately keep more water in Lake Mead and thus the Colorado River system.

The City began recharging treated effluent – meeting stringent Arizona Department of Environmental Quality criteria – back to the system via two new injection wells. This continues the water cycle by returning the treated water back into the aquifer where it will be further filtered through the soil. Previously, this water was sitting in ponds until it was evaporated and lost forever. Now, this water, once treated and recharged, may contribute 8,800 acre-feet of water to the Colorado River water system over the next four years and possibly beyond.

This project received $1 million in funding through the PSCP, a partnership amongst the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the Southern Nevada Water Authority and Denver Water. These agencies are jointly funding voluntary water conservation projects throughout the entire Colorado River Basin. This collaboration helps protect the Colorado River system from a growing crisis by asking water users across the seven Colorado River basin states to submit water conservation ideas to benefit the municipal, industrial and agricultural sectors. The result is a repository of field-tested, new tools in water conservation that water resource managers can use to help protect Lake Powell and Lake Mead.

“This is the type of collaboration the Pilot System Conservation Program was set up to support,” says Lisa Atkins, CAP Board Chair. “When all the basin states work together to share innovative ideas, everyone in the basin ultimately benefits. We’re seeing ideas come forward that will ultimately result in a more resilient Colorado River water system.”

The PSCP has funded several projects in Arizona including the Tohono O’odham Nation, the Gila River Indian Community, the Colorado River Indian Tribes and 11 central Arizona irrigation districts. Thanks to continued funding by the PSCP agencies at about $30 million to date, the program will continue to selectively fund cost-effective projects that are finding new ways to conserve Colorado River water.