CAP water orders: planning for 1.4 million acre-feet of deliveries

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CAP Waters Desert

Nearly 1.4 million acre-feet of Colorado River water – that’s how much Colorado River water Central Arizona Project estimates it will deliver next year to more than 80 percent of the state’s population in central and southern Arizona.

How is CAP accounting for every single acre-foot?

The planning for 2021 begins long before New Year’s Day.

World of water orders

Before CAP water flows as much as 336 miles through the CAP system, CAP water operations employees have worked methodically to understand and fulfill customer water orders.

Preparations begin with gathering water delivery schedule requests from water users by Oct. 1, and continue until Jan. 1 when the first deliveries of the new year commence. In fact, in addition to water delivery schedule requests for the following year, CAP requests that water users submit preliminary estimates for the succeeding two years, and then this 3-year delivery outlook is updated with the most current year’s request.

CAP strives to be responsive to customer needs, working collaboratively with water users to help them plan, schedule, deliver and account for the Colorado River water when and where they need it.

CAP delivery supply outlook

CAP creates a delivery supply outlook prior to receiving actual water delivery schedule requests based on the prior year’s estimates and other pertinent information.

This is the outlook for 2021:

2021 CAP Delivery Supply Outlook

Here’s a summary:

  • CAP safely assumes there will be an estimated 1.67-million acre-feet of Colorado River water available for CAP to divert for the calendar year (Colorado River Supply);
  • CAP subtracts its commitment to Drought Contingency Plan reductions because the system has already been declared to be in Tier Zero on Jan. 1;
  • CAP subtracts system losses, and then adds any estimated supply from its storage reservoir Lake Pleasant that could be delivered — for a total CAP Delivery Supply of 1.453 million acre-feet. This, of course, matches the total amount of anticipated CAP water orders.

Once agreed-upon other Lake Mead contributions (via water users) are accounted for, the total CAP deliveries for 2021 would be 1.394 million acre-feet.

Annual CAP water deliveries first meet the highest priority — long-term contract demand requests — according to the CAP system priority.

Remaining delivery supplies go to the Agricultural Settlement Pool first and then to the Statutory Firming Pool for underground storage and replenishment, but with DCP reductions it is not anticipated that water will be available to the Statutory Firming Pool in 2021.

CAP stakeholder meetings

This CAP Delivery Supply Outlook is communicated to water users at public meetings such as a CAP Annual Water Users Briefing.

As part of a commitment to transparency and open communication, CAP also holds a number of stakeholder meetings throughout the year to brief water users on various topics, including water operations, rates and the budget.

This deliberately-planned process is an effort to reliably deliver Colorado River water at a reasonable price — accounting for each and every acre-foot.