24 Aug 2012

Too much sun in Aridzona?*

A few months ago, ML sent me this agenda item [PDF] with this comment:
The Central Arizona Project (CAP) is embarking upon a massive water purchase in the 300 million dollar range to monopolize the water transfer business from the private farms to the CAP then to the cities to keep the competition and prices down.
Now, I'll take ML's comment at face value (CAP wants to control who gets water, rather than allowing market allocations that it can neither control nor distort by buying high and selling low), but the actual agenda item has even weirder language:
The Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (CAGRD, part of CAP) is required by law to [1] replenish excess groundwater delivered to member lands and member service areas... An estimated 125,000 AF/yr of [2] new water supplies will be needed by CAGRD in addition to its existing water rights to meet statutory obligations... CAGRD commissioned Montgomery and Associates and WestWater Research to conduct an analysis of the Arizona Water market. The study involved updating and expanding existing inventories of potentially available water supplies, estimating their economic value, [3] developing an acquisition strategy and a plan to implement the strategy
So I am not sure if I get this, but it seems that CAGRD wants a [3] strategy for [2] acquiring water to [1] replace excess water that it delivers to member areas.

I have two questions:
  1. If it's "excess" why does it have to be replenished?
  2. If it's NOT excess, then why is it being taken from the ground and then replaced from water from elsewhere? It seems like CAP should either NOT deliver it, or deliver the water from elsewhere, leaving the original water in the ground.
Or is the sun so hot in Aridzona that people lose control of their thinking?

I'm going to Burning Man today, so I'll ask people there what they think. Maybe CAP policy makes more sense in 100+ degree heat (that's 40+ for everyone lucky enough to avoid the US system :)

* Can I claim trademark on that name? Guess not.

1 comment:

Chris Brooks said...

I'll take a stab at your questions.

1. It's excess pumped groundwater, not excess water. Under AZ law, water providers in an Active Management Area have a specific allotment of GW they are permitted to pump. Any pumpage beyond that is considered "excess" that must be mitigated. The CAGRD provides that mitigation by recharging renewable water to offset the extra pumping.
2. The purpose of this Rube Goldberg-esque arrangement is to permit development that doesn't have access to renewable water supplies - CAP - to use GW as a supply but still remain technically "compliant" with state law requirements that mandate use of renewable supplies. A fine idea in the abstract. But in reality much (though not all) replenishment occurs far from where the pumping happens - a hydrologic disconnect that state law fails to address.

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