In August 2011, the Arizona Water Banking Authority approved an amendment to the 2011 Plan of Operation that will provide more water this year to two agricultural districts in Pinal County that operate as Groundwater Savings Facilities. The ag districts asked for the additional water because historically high commodity prices for cotton last year resulted in large amounts of planted acreage, a spring freeze killed many plants and required replanting of 30% of the cotton crops, and a dry summer produced an emergency need for more water. The irrigation districts used up their allotment of CAP water for the year by the end of August, and were unable to bring enough groundwater wells and pumps online in time to save the crops.
One district paid the full cost of the water - $137/AF – for 15,000 AF, for a total cost of $2M. The cost share normally paid by farmers for CAP water in this district is $33/AF. Ironically, this purchase for additional water above and beyond their plan does not actually “save” any groundwater. The post script is that the farmers report the crop was saved by this emergency influx of water (reportedly they were already in for $1,200 per acre), and the Water Bank said that this was a one-time deal only. But still…Minutes for the August 25 meeting have the details.