The Arizona Water Banking Authority (AWBA; Water Bank) was established in 1996 to store the unused portion of Arizona’s annual Colorado River entitlement in Central and Southern Arizona. The AWBA stores water in underground aquifers to earn long-term storage credits. These credits can be recovered (pumped) during a shortage to provide back-up water supplies (known as "firming") for Arizona water users.
Through 2021, the Water Bank has accrued 4.37 million acre-feet (MAF) of long-term storage credits (LTSCs): 3.76 MAF for Arizona uses and 613 KAF on behalf of the State of Nevada. The AWBA firms water supplies for Central Arizona Project (CAP) Municipal and Industrial (M&I) subcontract holders and communities along the Colorado River. As the agent for the State, the AWBA is responsible for meeting the State's Tribal firming obligations under the Arizona Water Settlements Act of 2004 (AWSA). The Water Bank also assists with meeting the State's water management objectives under the Groundwater Code and provides the mechanism for interstate water banking with the other Lower Basin States. By storing water, the Water Bank helps to ensure long-term water supplies for Arizona and neighboring states.
2023 Plan of Operation
In 2023, the Colorado River will operate under a Lower Basin Tier 2a shortage condition, which effectively reduces Arizona's Colorado River entitlement by 592,000 acre-feet. Accordingly, there will be no excess CAP water available to the AWBA for storage. While significant, the reductions in Colorado River supplies in 2023 will not impact supplies available for CAP M&I subcontractors and on-River M&I contractors. However, the reductions will impact supplies made available to Tribes under the Arizona Water Settlements Act of 2004, resulting in an AWBA firming requirement. In the absence of excess CAP water, the AWBA plans to make progress on its firming goals through credit acquisitions
Read the 2023 AWBA Plan of Operation
2023 Tier 2a Shortage
The U.S. Secretary of the Interior has declared a Tier 2a shortage for Colorado River operations in 2023. This Tier 2a shortage will result in a substantial cut to Arizona’s share of the Colorado River — about 37% of Central Arizona Project’s normal supply; approximately 21% of Arizona’s total Colorado River supply. As a result of these reductions, the AWBA will have a Tribal firming obligation as identified in the Arizona Water Settlement Act.
Photo credit: NASA
2021 Annual Report
The AWBA had no excess CAP water supplies available for storage in 2021. As a result, the AWBA continued to make progress on its firming goals and obligations through other means. The AWBA purchased 7,863 acre-feet of LTSCs including 6,500 acre-feet in the Phoenix AMA and 1,363 acre-feet in the Tucson AMA. Cumulatively, the AWBA has accrued or acquired 4.37 million acre-feet (MAF) of LTSCs. Of this amount, 3.76 MAF are for Arizona uses and 0.61 MAF are interstate credits stored on behalf of the State of Nevada. Additionally, the AWBA purchased 4,196 acre-feet of intentionally created surplus firming credits pursuant to its 2019 agreement with the Community.
Read the 2021 AWBA Annual Report
2021 Joint Recovery Planning Update
The 2021 Joint Update is a collaborative effort among the AWBA, ADWR, CAP, RPAG and stakeholders to advance recovery planning. This Joint Update builds on previous planning efforts in the 2014 Plan, further discusses Independent Recovery concepts intended to increase flexibility and fully utilize existing infrastructure, includes an analysis of recovery capacity requirements focused on impacts to direct uses, and identifies future activities and commitments
Read the 2021 Joint Update