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    United States Socialist Republic book by HG Goerner

    Lake Mead Water Shortage Affects Seven States


    by Sheryl Hamlin

    For the first time since its completion in 1935, the federal government has declared a water shortage disaster at Lake Mead. Read about this here at Reuters.

    Lake Mead was formed with the water from the Hoover Dam hydro plant and feeds the Colorado River. The image below shows the seven states affected by the Colorado River.

    Seven States, source AZ Water

    The interactive Colorado River Dashboard is a resource to be bookmarked.

    History of Agreements: Law of the River

    The Colorado River Compact of 1922 was a negotiated agreement between the seven states as shown in the map plus Mexico. This is important history which is almost a century old. Read the history here.

    In anticipation of the Federal declaration, the Arizona Corporation Commission (AZCC) established a Water Preparedness initiative and two proposals were approved by the commission and the utilities.

    The first proposal institutes an annual Water Preparedness Meeting, which will keep the Commission informed of immediate water scarcity issues and infrastructure needs. The second proposal establishes a Water Task Force, composed of key stakeholders, which will evaluate an array of policy options and best practices and report back to the Commission with recommendations tailored for Arizona and its needs.Source and Details here.

    Water Preparedness Workshop September 21, 2021

    AZCC invited 28 large water utilities to speak on their water preparedness plans at the September 21, 2021 workshop. The meeting started at 9:00 am but by noon only the first nine had presented. The staff suggested and the Commission agreed that the others would docket their presentations for future questions and review. The list of the presenters is given in the Agenda. The link to the e-Docket is here. The video recording will be posted soon.

    Commissioners Opening Remarks

    Commissioner Kennedy stated that she would like to understand how Arizona water companies are approaching preparedness. There are 242 water companies regulated by the AZCC, but not all take water from Lake Mead, she said. Commissioner Olson said he was interested in agriculture and other activities. Commissioner Tovar wanted to know how compaies will be dealing with water shortages. Commissioner O’Conner thanked everyone. Chair Márquez said this was an important conversation for the current drought and wanted to understand what utilities are doing and specifically what water conservation efforts have been deployed.

    Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR)

    Leading off the presentations was Clint Chandler, Deputy Director of ADWR. He said that the State had anticipated this day and in 2004 under Governor Janet Napolitano a Drought Preparedness Plan was created. Read that plan here. Mr. Chandler stated that the plan includes a water supply plan, drought preparedness plan and a water conservation plan. He reminded the viewers of the Law of the River (mentioned above). The Colorado hydro-electric plant serves 40 million people in the Basin and produces 4200 megawatts of power. The 30 year average of snowpack was 2.67 million acre feet per year compared to the projected 2021 number of .810 million af/y. As the chart below shows, the Lake Powell and Mead storage has been in rapid decline since 1999 with an acute shortage projected by the end of the decade.

    Source: ADWR Chandler presentation

    Commission Questions

    There were questions about water history and how long had this serious condition been known. Mr. Chandler referred them to the above graph. He will docket historical information. A question was asked about the effect of the drought on the hydro-electric power generation. Mr. Chandler said they hoped to convert this power, but did not elaborate. This article mentions new pumps that can operate as low as 950 feet (level now is approaching 1030), so perhaps this is what was meant by conversion. (to be clarified)

    Central Arizona Project CAP

    Mr. Patrick Dent, Director of Water Policy, stated that the hydrology of the past winter was the third lowest on record. The CAP has been preparing since it started in the late 1960’s. The CAP has a priority system of what classes will be reduced. Agriculture will be reduced first, he said. In the near term, an expected shortage by 2023 of 720,000 af/y decrease from the CAP. He said the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (CAGRD) was formed in the 1990’s to provide “assured” water. The CAP rights to water are junior to other larger state entities in the lower basin. Read about the priorities here. The 2022 CAP cuts are shown in this article.

    Arizona Water Banking Authority

    Virginia O’Connell, manager of the AWBA, said this agency had been storing water for 24 years and that this was the first time in the history of the AWBA that withdrawals were to be made from the storage. In answer to commission questions she said that there are 3.25 million af/y in long term storage and that shortages were expected as early as 2027. She said their modeling was annual with a ten year rolling forecast.

    EPCOR/Rio Verde

    Doug Dunham, Manager of Water Resources, stated that his agency is actively participating in all programs including drought preparedness. He anticipates no direct impact to Epcor’s customers due to the recent announcement of cuts. The send 95% of treated effluent back to use. But, he said, growth will cause supply stress and he questioned how agencies would pay for new projects.

    In response to commission questions, he said that the water conservation measures were multi-progrned including home leak detection, retrofit of home fixtures, advance meters, demo gardens to manage landscaping. The low hanging fruit in Arizona is agriculture, he said. He noted that Arizona is the only state with mandatory conservation measures and uses less water today than in 1957. Note no calcs given. He said that EPCOR submits the mandatory conservation plans to ABWR and said he would docket the most recent plan submitted.

    Arizona Water Company

    Terry Sue Rossi, Water Resources Manager, stated that Arizona Water Company was the second largest in Arizona with 24 water systems, 250,000 people and 100,000 connections. The shortage will start in 2024 and extend to 2031. They are planning to develop effluent to offset impacts with a goal of 100% reuse. Note the AZ Potable Reuse Framework is not yet complete and only permits for pilot projects are being issued.

    Liberty Utiities

    Mathew Gorelick, President, said they practice natural disasters and the SCADA is updated weekly. All customers are metered, he said, and per ADWR regulations, public education is part of the program. There is a conservation kit, toilet voucher program and a commercial audit and retrofit for high end users, such as high schools and HOAs. In a partnership program, the A+ treated effluent is used for parks, golf courses and other irrigation. Note, he did not define A+. Liberty is 100% groundwater based. See chart on water sources in Arizona.

    In response to commission questions, Mr. Gorelick said that 600 had requested the conservation kits and they needed to increase outreach. He said he would docket the actual number of participants in each program.

    Global Water

    Jake Lenderking, SVP Water Resources, said they manage sixteen utilities across three counties. The founding statement was “Water is scarce” and practice Total Water Management. He said that in the early 2000’s they were accused of fear mongering, One billion gallons of recycled water is delivered to the City of Maricopa through purple pipes, he said. Smart meters alert customers to leaks. They have an innovative rate design including conservation rates. The GPCD (Gallons per capita per day) is the second lowest in the State. He stressed that due to overallocation and stress of aquifers across the state, ADWR will not approve new groundwater applications for “assured water”. And, he said that with reduced Colorado River water and growth, groundwater pumping will increase. The long term plan is indirect IPR) and direct potable reuse (DPR). Read about IPR and DPR here. AZ is following the CA model.

    Robson Communities

    Brian Smith, Vice President, stated they manage five water and four wastewater systems including: (Logo Del Oro Water Company, Pima Utility Company, Quail Creek Water Company, and Picacho Water Company) Their website links to conservation material. Golf courses will NOT be overseeded this year. Golf courses are watered with effluent.

    Adjournment Noon

    To see the rest of the speakers please click on the Agenda and look for their material in the e-docket.

    The Elephant in the Room: Unfettered Growth

    While some of the speakers hinted at the issue, no one spoke of the unfettered growth which Arizona leaders have been preaching for the last four decades. Arizona leaders are very proud that Maricopa County is the fasted growing county in the country. Read news announcement.

    Arizona Grows Where Water Flows

    Anyone around Arizona in the 1960’s remembers billboards with this slogan. A water historian talks about the mixed bag of results from this thinking. Several of the speakers mentioned more severe shortages in the future and hinted at growth issues.

    Yuma Desal Plant

    Not mentioned by the speakers is the Yuma Desal Plant. This plant was built by the federal government to fulfill the contractual agreement with Mexico for clean water from the Colorado. Its use was up and down and was finally mothballed until Los Angeles wanted to pilot water delivery from such a system. Recently, the plant has been given a permit to recommence operation. It would have been notable if the water to be supplied from this system and its effect on water deliveries to Mexico had been discussed.

    For more information about the author, click sherylhamlin dot com



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