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 2020, the Water Bank has accrued 4.36 million acre-feet (MAF) of long-term storage credits (LTSCs): 3.75 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.
2022 Tier One Shortage
The U.S. Secretary of the Interior has declared the first-ever Tier 1 shortage for Colorado River operations in 2022. This Tier 1 shortage will result in a substantial cut to Arizona’s share of the Colorado River – about 30% of Central Arizona Project’s normal supply; nearly 18% of Arizona’s total Colorado River supply.
ADWR Fact Sheet>
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.
2021 Joint Update>
2022 Plan of Operation
In 2022, the Colorado River will operate under a Lower Basin Tier 1 shortage condition, which effectively reduces Arizona's Colorado River entitlement by 512,000 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 2022 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. As a result, the AWBA will have its first-ever firming requirement. Absent excess CAP water supplies, the AWBA will continue to make progress on its firming goals through credit acquisitions.
2022 Plan of Operation>