The Arizona legislature created the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District in 1993 to provide a replenishment mechanism for water providers and land owners that rely on groundwater for new development. CAGRD replenishes, back into the aquifer, a portion of the groundwater pumped and delivered to these new subdivisions by their local water providers. Replenishment occurs through the process of recharge.
Every 10 years, CAGRD submits a Plan of Operation to the Arizona Department of Water Resources. The current 2015 Plan demonstrates that CAGRD is able to meet its replenishment obligations over the next 100 years for current members and for new members that enroll in the program through 2024 when the next Plan of Operation will be submitted to ADWR. CAGRD’s 2020 replenishment obligation was 35,000 acre-feet.
So, where does this water come from?
Until a few years ago, CAGRD primarily used CAP water that was “unordered” each year by CAP subcontractors, commonly referred to as excess CAP water. Due to the Colorado River shortage, this supply has been eliminated in recent years in accordance with CAP’s priority system.
CAGRD’s water supply program was created more than a decade ago with the goal of developing a robust, diversified water supply portfolio. This goal has been achieved through numerous water acquisitions over the years and now CAGRD’s supply portfolio includes the following supplies:
- Current long-term storage credits and those that will be purchased in the future under existing agreements
- Effluent supply resulting from CAGRD’s partnership agreement with Liberty Utilities
- CAP Indian water entitlement, which is part of the CAGRD/Gila River Indian Community/GRWS water supply agreement from 2019
- CAP NIA leases as part of the above agreement and another lease for settlement water from the White Mountain Apache tribe
- CAP Municipal & Industrial allocation
- CAP NIA entitlement to water that was reallocated in 2021
More detail can be found on CAP’s CAGRD water supply portfolio web page.
CAP water supplies in CAGRD’s supply portfolio are subject to future shortage-related reductions. However, CAGRD has ample long-term storage credits to meet its annual replenishment obligations well into the future. Long-term storage credits are earned when water is recharged into the aquifer. Once created, long-term storage credits can be bought and sold.
The primary goal of the water supply program has been to acquire a diverse portfolio of water supplies through voluntary, market-based transactions in accordance with key principles recently revised and re-approved by the CAWCD Board. Acquisitions are funded by current and future CAGRD members through annual assessments and dues and a portion of the enrollment and activation fees.