Groundwater Management Act of 1980
Why We Must Change Peoria's Water Supply
Our Sonoran desert receives little rainfall (7-9 inches/year) and very little seeps back into the soil to replenish our underground water supplies (called groundwater). Currently groundwater is being pumped at a faster rate than what is naturally replenished (called overdraft). Regional water levels have declined because of overdraft, causing numerous problems. Problems associated with overdraft include: water quality degradation, increased electric costs to pump water, a need to deepen water supply wells, and the long-term geologic phenomena of land subsidence.
To address the overdrafting of Arizona’s groundwater supplies, the State Legislature passed the Groundwater Management Act in 1980.
In compliance with the Act’s mandates, Peoria has made the commitment to switch its supply of water from a non-renewable source to a renewable one, i.e. groundwater to surface water. Making this transition will provide Peoria residents with a long-term supply of high quality water while not depleting our groundwater supply. Saving our groundwater now will ensure that Peoria can provide water for the next generation and beyond.
Phoenix Active Management Area
(Brief overview for large municipal providers, e.g. Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Mesa, Tempe, Peoria, )
The Groundwater Management Act specified areas that are depleting groundwater resources to be designated as Active Management Areas or AMAs. The Phoenix metropolitan area and 4 other areas with severe groundwater overdraft fall into these categories. The goal of the Phoenix AMA is to reach Safe Yield by 2025. Safe Yield is defined as the hydrologic concept of achieving and maintaining a long-term balance between the annual amount of groundwater withdrawn in an AMA and the annual amount of natural and artificial recharge in the AMA.
The Groundwater Management Act divided the time period between 1980 and 2025 into five intervals. Each interval has an associated Management Plan that will incrementally move the Phoenix AMA into Safe Yield.
Management Plan Timeline
First Management Plan 1980-1990
Second Management Plan 1990-2000
Third Management Plan 2000-2010
Fourth Management Plan 2010-2020
Fifth Management Plan 2020-2025
The Third Management Plan describes the actions and programs necessary to achieve the water management strategy during the this period This includes identifying a water strategy that encompasses the use of water conservation, augmentation, recharge, and water quality management by the agricultural, municipal, and industrial sectors to achieve Safe Yield.
From the municipal standpoint, the base conservation program administered by Arizona’s Department of Water Resources (ADWR) is the Total Gallons Per Capita Per Day (GPCD) program. This program sets per capita water use targets that the cities are obligated to meet. The per capita targets will gradually lessen as time goes on. The actual amount for the Third Management Plan will be calculated by using the "component method." An assessment of the city’s conservation potential will be determined given the values assigned to the various components. The components are: existing residential use, new single family interior residential use, new single family exterior residential use, new multifamily interior residential use, new residential family exterior use, and lost and unaccounted for water. The calculation of these components is covered in detail in the Third Management Plan.
In 1992, the State Legislature enacted legislation requiring the ADWR to include in the management plans a Non-Per Capita Conservation Program (NPCCP) as an optional, alternative program to the Total Gallon Per Capita Per Day Program.
This program requires the water provider to implement specific conservation measures within its service area instead of requiring compliance with per-capita conservation requirements. A groundwater use reduction requirement must also be met. This is met one of three ways: the water provider could be a member of a groundwater replenishment district, the provider’s area is designated as having a 100-year assured water supply under the ADWR Assured Water Supply Rules, or the water provider must implement a plan to reduce mined groundwater withdrawals to zero by the year 2010.
A third option, called the Alternative Conservation Program (ACP), is also available to water providers with disproportionately increasing non-residential water users. This program gives municipalities the flexibility to serve these non-residential uses while achieving water use efficiency levels comparable to those set by the Total Gallons Per Capita Per Day Program. The Alternative Conservation Program consists of the following requirements that must be met by the provider: groundwater use limitation, residential gallons per capita per day requirement, and non-residential reasonable conservation measures.
All large municipal providers (e.g. City of Peoria) within the Phoenix Active Management Area must comply with ever increasing statutes necessary for reducing groundwater use and achieving Safe Yield. The Third Management Plan is extensive and impacts each of us. The requirements are complex and will require effort from all water users to achieve compliance. The challenge is great but not insurmountable. It is not only a good idea to conserve and use our water wisely; it is an absolute necessity!