The City of Phoenix and the Gila River Indian Community (“GRIC”) have announced water storage, recovery, and exchange agreement. Under the agreement, Phoenix would deliver up to 3,800 AF during 2017 for storage in GRIC’s Olberg Dam Underground Storage Facility. The city would pay a storage fee of $13/AF.
The agreement, which is similar to an existing agreement between Phoenix and Tucson, establishes a small-scale pilot program that could lead to a larger, long-term program. It is being heralded as the type of collaboration that is needed to meet Arizona’s long-term water needs.
“Phoenix is honored to partner with the Gila River Indian Community on water issues,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said. “The Community enjoys the largest allocation of Colorado River water in Central Arizona, and is a key player in the state’s water future. Through collaborative partnerships like this, Arizonans can better confront and solve our long-term water challenges.”
GRIC Governor Stephen Roe Lewis noted that “the Gila River Indian Community and the City of Phoenix have long shared a border and economic interests. This agreement will provide a foundation for future partnerships benefitting both of our communities and is a model for the region.”
The city and the tribe are also part of a recently-announced partnership that also includes the Arizona Department of Water Resources (“ADWR”) and the Walton Family Foundation. The partnership has agreed to continue efforts to conserve water. Their intention is to address the falling elevation at Lake Mead and the long-term sustainability of the Colorado River.
GRIC Governor Lewis explained that the tribe sees the partnership as a continuation of previous conservation commitments and expects that it will allow negotiations on the Drought Contingency Plan Plus (“DCP Plus”) to continue.
“This agreement is an important step to continue cooperative efforts to help slow the falling elevations at Lake Mead,” said GRIC Governor Lewis. “Having the largest entitlement of Colorado River water delivered through the CAP system, the Community recognizes that it can make its supply available in times of need, and we consider this agreement a continuation of our commitments made to United States in January that will allow Arizona parties to continue their negotiations and efforts to conclude a comprehensive plan, commonly called the Drought Contingency Plan Plus or DCP Plus, to address the severe drought on the Colorado River.”
ADWR Director Tom Buschatzke said, “This agreement will allow for the creation of tools that will be effective in protecting Lake Mead. Those tools will be enduring and inclusive, allowing for participation by a broad group of Arizona water entitlement holders and other constituencies.”
Written by Marta L. Weismann