Executive Summary

The Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (“CAGRD”) 2015 Plan of Operation describes the activities that CAGRD proposes to undertake in the Phoenix, Pinal and Tucson Active Management Areas (“AMAs”) over the next 100 years based on continued membership enrollment through 2024.


Through December 31, 2013, CAGRD enrolled the water service areas of 23 municipal water providers as Member Service Areas. In addition more than 1,090 subdivisions, representing about 263,700 homes, have been enrolled as Member Lands of the CAGRD. From 2004 through 2013, CAGRD incurred a total of more than 340,870 acre-feet (“AF”) of groundwater replenishment obligation and fulfilled more than 280,540 AF of this obligation. CAGRD has met, and is continuing to meet, its replenishment obligation within a statutorily-prescribed three-year window.


Importantly, the long-term projection for replenishment obligation is now significantly lower than that projected in the 2005 Plan of Operation (113,000 AF compared to 227,000 AF). For the 2015 Plan of Operation, projections of enrollment and obligations were generated from a Central Arizona Project – Service Area Model for supply and demand, known as CAP-SAM, that simulates a range of future conditions. Based on model results, CAGRD estimates 119,000 new Member Land housing units are likely to enroll through 2024. Total annual replenishment obligation for current members and those that are projected to enroll through 2024 is estimated to reach approximately 86,900 AF by 2034; 62,700 AF of this total volume is for current members. In 2114, the projected annual replenish­ment obligation for current and projected members is 113,000 AF.


In 2011, CAGRD conducted a Water Supply Acquisition Study to identify an inventory of available water supplies and to develop an acquisition implementation plan to meet its current and future replenish­ment obligation. Based on conservative assumptions, CAGRD has identified an annual total of more than 980,000 AF of supplies that are available and could be used to meet replenishment obligations over the next 100 years. These available supplies are an order of magnitude greater than the amount of additional supplies that CAGRD will seek to acquire over the time period covered under this Plan. In addition, the Water Supply Program has established a planning goal of acquiring at least 50% of necessary water supplies as long-term (100-year or more) entitlements. The remaining water supplies could be acquired as part of short-term leases and/or as long-term storage credits (LTSCs).


CAGRD currently holds rights to approximately 36,530 AF of annual long-term water supplies. To meet the projected 2034 replenishment obligation of 86,900 AF/yr, CAGRD will seek to acquire approximately 50,370 AF/yr of additional water supplies over the next 20 years. CAGRD also will seek to acquire an additional 26,100 AF of annual entitlement over the subsequent 80 years. CAGRD has acquired sufficient long-term water supplies to meet its current obligation and is near its goal of securing 50% of its 2034 obligation in the form of long-term water supplies. Only an additional 6,900 AF/yr needs to be acquired over the next 20 years to meet this goal. Maintaining this goal will require developing approximately 13,100 AF/yr of additional long-term water supplies between 2034 and 2114.


CAGRD is required to establish and maintain a Replenishment Reserve of LTSCs in the Phoenix, Pinal and Tucson AMAs to help ensure fulfillment of replenishment obligation and to enhance rate stability. The target volume for these reserves totals about 764,500 AF. Sufficient water supplies are currently available to CAGRD to meet the target through a combination of existing LTSCs in the Replenishment Reserve subaccount and Central Arizona Water Conservation District (“CAWCD”) dedicated LTSCs.


In May, 2013, the CAWCD Board approved a new policy regarding capacity priority for CAWCD Underground Storage Facilities (“USFs”). The policy allocates the highest priority for USF capacity to CAGRD after contractual commitments are met and therefore preserves significant storage capacity within CAWCD’s USFs for use by CAGRD for replenishment purposes. For the 2015 Plan of Operation, staff conducted an inventory of existing storage facilities which included a comparison of the operational capacity of each facility with replenishment capacity available to CAGRD. This analysis showed that sufficient storage capacity is available to meet replenishment and reserve storage requirements for the next 20 years. Additionally, CAGRD will continuously evaluate additional facilities that may be developed for specific supplies such as effluent, to reduce costs to its members, or to meet broader water management goals.


Statutes require that all of CAGRD’s costs be paid by its members and also provide CAGRD with the authority and responsibility to establish and collect all fees, assessments and taxes necessary to meet its statutory obligations. CAGRD’s Board of Directors has adopted policies for establishing its fees and rates on an annual basis, thus providing CAGRD with flexibility as economic and operational conditions change. Financial flexibility has recently been further enhanced to include annual membership dues and bonding authority. Therefore, all mechanisms are in place to ensure that CAGRD has sufficient financial capacity to meet its obligation.


In conclusion, this Plan of Operation demonstrates that CAGRD has the capability and the authority to meet all of its statutory obligations over the next 100 years for current members and new members that will enroll through 2024.