The Arizona Water Banking Authority (AWBA) has accrued 4,360,000 acre-feet of long-term storage credits since its inception in 1996: of which 3,750,000 acre-feet are for Arizona uses and 613,000 acre-feet were developed for interstate purposes on behalf of Nevada. In the event of a shortage on the Colorado River, the AWBA’s storage credits will be recovered to provide firming (back-up supplies) for Central Arizona Project (CAP) Municipal and Industrial (M&I) subcontractors and Fourth Priority (P4) on-River M&I users. AWBA credits will also be recovered to meet Arizona’s obligations pursuant to Indian water rights settlements and to meet interstate water banking obligations with Nevada. The recovery of AWBA credits involves multiple entities and requires coordination with a variety of stakeholders. The AWBA is responsible for the distribution of credits, consistent with its statutory and contractual responsibilities. The AWBA is not authorized to recover stored water and must rely on recovery partners. The Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD) has been designated as the primary recovery agent for the AWBA.
AWBA staff works collaboratively with the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) and the CAWCD as part of an interagency recovery planning workgroup. With the increasing likelihood of Colorado River shortages and the additional reductions required under the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan (LBDCP), stakeholders expressed a desire for updated recovery modeling and additional clarity in recovery implementation. In 2018, the Recovery Planning Advisory Group (RPAG) was convened to ensure stakeholder perspectives are considered as recovery concepts are updated.
The 2021 Update to the 2014 Joint Recovery Plan is a collaborative effort among the AWBA, ADWR, CAWCD, RPAG and stakeholders to advance recovery planning. The 2021 Joint Update builds on previous planning efforts in the 2014 Joint Recovery 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, clarifies the timing and triggers for recovery implementation and identifies future recovery related activities and commitments.
The 2014 Joint Recovery Plan includes a detailed description of the roles and responsibilities of the AWBA, ADWR, CAWCD and other entities. It also describes each of the following recovery methods in more detail. There are three basic methods for recovering AWBA credits when shortages occur: direct recovery, indirect recovery and credit exchange. Direct recovery is when stored water is pumped by CAWCD and returned to the CAP aqueduct for delivery to CAP customers. Indirect recovery is when stored water is pumped and delivered using infrastructure other than the CAP aqueduct. In this method of recovery, recovered water is not returned directly to the CAP system. Credit exchange allows a CAP subcontractor to voluntarily reduce its annual storage and recovery deliveries to a specific facility in exchange for AWBA credits already stored at that facility. The subcontractor performing annual storage and recovery is exchanging its subcontract water for recovered CAP water. This allows the water that would have been delivered to remain in the CAP system to firm shorted supplies. The water that remains in the CAP system is legally considered recovered CAP water under state exchange laws.