Arizona Senate Bill 1445 introduced last week "Modifies the conditions that a city or town in the Prescott Active Management Area must follow in order to import groundwater from the Big Chino Sub-Basin." The bill passed out of committee yesterday on a vote of 6-0, with one abstention. [right, Big Chino water ranch. Credit, City of Prescott]
The analysts review of the bill posted on www.azleg.gov describes the provisions this way:
Prescott AMA and the Big Chino
1. Modifies the conditions that must be met in order to transfer water from the Big Chino. In order for a city or town in the Prescott AMA to import water both of the following conditions must be met:
a) the city or town must relinquish its CAP allocation; and
b) the city or town must be party to a federally-approved Indian water rights settlement agreement with a tribe in the Prescott AMA.
2. Establishes the amount of groundwater that may be withdrawn and transported from the Big Chino to the Prescott AMA at 8,068 AFY. Current law authorizes the withdrawal of up to 14,000 AFY from the Big Chino for cities and towns and Indian user settlements for two specified tribes in the AMA.
3. Provides an exception from the 8,068 AFY amount if the city or town delivers more than 231 AFY to a tribe in the Prescott AMA with a federally approved water settlement agreement. The additional amount is limited to the amount that exceeds 231AFY.
4. Specifies that imported groundwater may be delivered to and used by a city, town or Indian tribe in the AMA, regardless of which entity withdraws and transports the water.
5. States the imported groundwater is legally available for the purpose of meeting assured water supply requirements.
6. Specifies that a city or town in the Prescott AMA that imports groundwater from the Big Chino is not subject to well spacing requirements. Currently, a well constructed after September 21,1991 cannot be used to withdraw groundwater that is transported to an AMA, unless it is approved by the ADWR Director based on a determination that it will not unreasonably increase damage to the surrounding land or other water users.
Groundwater Transportation Between Sub-Basins
7. Allows groundwater that is imported from specific basins, located outside an AMA, to be moved across sub-basin boundaries within an AMA without payment of damages. Currently, groundwater can be transported within the sub-basins of the same AMA without payment of damages.