Arizona AMAs

A map shows the different Active Management Areas in Arizona. The Pinal AMA, sandwiched between Phoenix and Tucson AMAs, is one of the three largest.

CASA GRANDE — The long-awaited draft of the fourth management plan for the Pinal Active Management Area has been released by the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

The draft is currently listed on ADWR’s website, along with a list of changes from the third management plan. The third management plans for all of the state’s Active Management Areas, including Pinal’s, were adopted in 1999.

The management plans are part of Arizona’s 1980 Groundwater Management Act, which controls the use of groundwater in five areas in the state, Phoenix, Pinal, Prescott, Santa Cruz and Tucson. The act calls for a series of five management plans to be created between 1980 and 2025. Each new plan is supposed to contain more rigorous rules for the use and conservation of groundwater in each area.

The fourth management plan was supposed to be completed in 2008, but cuts in ADWR staffing after the Great Recession forced the department to write the plan for each area one after the other instead of working on them all at the same time, as it had done in the past.

A presentation on the draft fourth management plan will be held at the next Pinal Groundwater Users Advisory Group meeting. A date for the meeting has yet to be set.

Some of the changes in the fourth plan for the Pinal AMA include:

  • Allowing ADWR to audit the records of any conservation plan used by an irrigation district or municipal water provider that is part of an ADWR best practices management plan conservation program.
  • Requiring irrigation districts or water companies that provide irrigation water to line all canals to prevent water loss or operate their system in such a way as to limit the loss of water to 10% or less of the total water distributed through the system. This includes reclaimed water.
  • Reducing the highest 25% of water duties within an area of similar farming conditions by up to 10%, with certain limitations. This would not include farms that are part of the best management practices program. This would reduce the sum of water allotments in the area by 2,985 acre-feet. Farms could still bank or borrow groundwater.
  • Changing the agricultural best management practices program including modifying the point structure for certain categories in the conservation program and requiring farms to have 12 points in the system. Existing farms in the program will have to submit a new worksheet for the program before July 1, 2022.
  • Updating the total gallons per capita per day program targets for municipal water providers and removed the option to exclude Central Arizona Project water from the calculation.
  • Increasing and updating the points targets for the best management practice conservation plan for municipal providers.
  • Requiring all municipal providers under the non-per-capita conservation program to submit a provider profile by July 1, 2022.
  • Decreasing the amount of water allowed per hole that can be used on golf courses.
  • Limiting the use of water for turf by industrial water users that are not cemeteries or golf courses to no more than 90 acres of turf starting in January 2023. Existing facilities would not be impacted.
  • Requiring mines to submit a long-range conservation plan and evaluate all practices and technology that could be used to conserve water that could be implemented at the mine.