The Arizona Water Banking Authority (AWBA) has stored 4.28 million acre-feet of excess Central Arizona Project water since its inception in 1996: of which 3.67 MAF is available for Arizona uses and 0.61 MAF of which 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 CAP M&I subcontractors and Fourth Priority (P-4) 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. CAWCD has been designated as the primary recovery agent for the AWBA.
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.
The AWBA staff continues to work collaboratively with the Arizona Department of Water Resources and the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD) as part of the Interagency Recovery Planning Group which released the 2014 Joint Recovery Plan. This document describes the recovery methods identified above in more detail. The Interagency Recovery Planning Group is also drafting an update to the 2014 Joint Recovery Plan in coordination with the Recovery Planning Advisory Group.