In 2019, the big story surrounding the successful Drought Contingency Plans was that they would codify the “when, who and how much” of conserving Colorado River water.
They meant that until the guidelines governing the river’s operation end in 2026, everyone with a stake in sustaining the river system’s health will know that if Lake Mead’s water levels descend below certain depths, the Colorado River States and the federal managers of the river will take specified actions to help stabilize the reservoir.
The big DCP deal wasn’t the only conservation agreement tied to the agreements, however.
On January 31, 2019 -- months before the final May 20 agreement was signed by the seven Colorado River States and the Department of the Interior -- Arizona lawmakers passed, and Gov. Doug Ducey signed, Senate Bill 1227, which provided the legislative authority for Arizona to sign the DCP. The legislation also appropriated $2 million to support groundwater conservation projects in Arizona’s five Active Management Areas, or AMAs.
(Arizona’s five AMAs -- Prescott, Phoenix, Pinal, Tucson, and Santa Cruz -- are regions of the state that are subject to regulation pursuant to the Groundwater Code established in 1980. Each AMA carries out its programs in a manner consistent with goals set out in the Groundwater Code while considering and incorporating the unique character of each AMA and its water users.)
The SB 1227 grant money was divided among the five AMAs on a per-capita basis, with a minimum amount for AMAs with smaller populations. The Phoenix AMA, being the most populated area, was allocated $1.245 million, while the Tucson AMA was allocated $305,000, and the Pinal, Prescott, and Santa Cruz were allocated $150,000 per AMA.
The grant is administered by Arizona Department of Water Resources’ Water Management Assistance Program (WMAP), which also administers groundwater withdrawal fee funds.
On October 20, the final awarding decisions on those conservation grants were made. The funding breakdown of the grantees is listed below (note: where grants exceeded amounts prescribed by SB 1227, remaining funding is to be paid with WMAP conservation and augmentations fees as per the recommendation of the Groundwater Users Advisory Council members and approval of the ADWR Director).
Making these grants available is nothing new for ADWR’s Water Management Assistance Program.
The WMAP has provided financial and technical resources to assist water users in developing and implementing conservation projects and programs that assist in achieving the efficient use of water supplies. The program has been helping Arizona’s AMAs meet their water management goals since 1990. Details of current and past WMAP funded projects are available at new.azwater.gov/ama/wmap.
Anyone with questions regarding the grants can contact Melissa Sikes, the Department’s WMAP coordinator, at [email protected].
Phoenix AMA (total funding $1,277,355)
- University of Arizona - Arizona Project WET's Using Project-Based STEM Education to Enhance Groundwater Conservation in Maricopa County Schools for $195,855
- Maricopa Water District's Northern Avenue Lateral Surface Water Capacity Restoration for $251,500
- City of El Mirage's El Mirage Water Conservation Program for $150,000
- Gary Woodard - Water Resources Consulting's Water Efficiency Audits for HOA Common Areas and Other Irrigation Customers for $120,000
- Esser Design, L.L.C.'s Bringing the Groundwater System to Light through an Educational Outreach Campaign/Video Series Targeting Youth and Adults for $250,000
- EPCOR Water's Pecan to New Magma Reclaim Water Line for $250,000
- Arizona Water Company's Leak Detection Equipment Replacement Project for $60,000
Tucson AMA (total funding $305,000)
- City of Tucson's Expanding a Water Loss Control Program throughout Tucson Water's Distribution System for $249,908
- Cortaro-Marana Irrigation District's Automated Gate for Marana Road Canal for $30,092
- Town of Marana's Marana water Citizens' Water Academy for $25,000
Pinal AMA (total funding $150,000)
- University of Arizona - Arizona Project WET's Using Project-Based STEM Education to Enhance Groundwater Conservation in Pinal County Schools for $43,681
- Maricopa-Stanfield Irrigation and Drainage District's Pumping Efficiency Project - Infrastructure Modernization and SCADA Upgrades for $59,000
- Arizona Water Company's Leak Detection Equipment Replacement Project for $47,319
Prescott AMA (total funding $217,444)
- Town of Prescott Valley's Water Smart Customer Portal for $77,313
- Upper Verde River Watershed Protection Coalition's Rainwater Harvesting for Aquifer Recharge for $65,131
- Arizona Department of Transportation's SR 89 Stormwater Recharge Pilot Project for $75,000
Santa Cruz AMA (total funding $161,938)
- City of Nogales' Water Conservation Education and Technology Project for $56,647
- Borderland Restoration Network's Groundwater Recharge on Working Lands to Local Youth to Enhance Ecosystem Services for $105, 291