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CAP agrees to water supply deal with Gila River tribe

BULLHEAD CITY — Central Arizona Project board of directors voted unanimously Thursday to accept a proposed agreement with the Gila River Indian Community and Gila River Water Storage LLC to acquire an annual renewable water supply of 33,185 acre-feet for 25 years beginning in 2020.

Though the vote was unanimous, some board members noted the agreement is a stopgap measure in the water district’s continuing search for water supply.

The $95 million agreement provides Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District an annual renewable water supply of 33,185 acre feet, excluding shortage impacts, plus 70,375 acre-feet of Phoenix Active Management Area long term storage credits for a total of 900,000 acre-feet of water over 25 years.

An acre-foot of water is 325,000 gallons, enough water to support up to three households for one year. It represents the volume of water needed to cover an acre to a depth of one foot.

The acquisition could increase Phoenix water rates 10 to 15 percent over the next two to three years, with water delivery costs starting in 2020 and impacting 2019 rates.

Primary benefits of the agreement include that it secures a significant portion of the water that CAGRD needs to meet its replenishment obligations under the 2015 Plan of Operation even under shortage conditions, CAGRD officials said.

Mohave County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gary Watson and Dist. 5 Sup. and Mohave County Water Authority Chairwoman Lois Wakimoto joined representatives of, among others, Homebuilders Association of Central Arizona and Southern Arizona Homebuilders Association, Environmental Defense Fund and Water for Arizona Coalition and the Walton Family Foundation speaking in favor of the proposed agreement.

Along with his support of the board accepting the agreement, Watson noted in his remarks that Mohave County has long advocated that CAGRD could obtain water in central Arizona for replenishment and that Mohave County continues to oppose the purchase and transfer of water from any users along the Colorado River to central Arizona.