Tribes win new clout in Arizona
July 25, 2004
By Shaun McKinnon
The Arizona Republic
To submit a Letter to the Editor: email@example.com
A persistent drought could siphon water from Phoenix and Tucson by early next decade.
But the real threat to a full urban supply isn't the dry spell -- it's an agreement to hand over nearly 200,000 acre-feet of water from the Central Arizona Project [CAP] to Indian tribes that sued to claim ancestral rights.
Arizona officials signed the water deal with the tribes last year after more than a decade of negotiations.
In all, Indian communities would control more than 40 percent of the flow in the CAP Canal, which delivers Colorado River water to Phoenix and Tucson.
Congress is considering the proposal this year.
Tribes are poised to wield more power on the river in the coming years, not only because of the drought but [also] because growing cities are looking for additional water to meet demand.
In addition to the pending settlement, other tribes, including the Navajo Nation, are awaiting settlement decisions.
That power could translate into higher water bills for Arizonans accustomed to a cheap resource.
Although some of the water will be used to help communities restore long-idle farms, tribes already are leasing water to cities for $1,000 per acre-foot or more.
Those cities now pay slightly more than $100 per acre-foot from the CAP and less than $20 per acre-foot from Salt River Project.
Drought adds yet another wrinkle.
In a normal year, the loss of CAP water for settlements wouldn't cut into what's available for cities.
Ahead of them in the line to take a hit are the Arizona Water Bank, which stores unused water underground, and farmers in Maricopa and Pinal counties.
But the drought would change the equation. If storage along the Colorado River continues to drop, the U.S. Department of the Interior could declare a shortage.
If that happens, the CAP could immediately lose as much as one-third of its allotment.
The CAP carries a low-priority water right on the Colorado, a concession Arizona made to get Congress to build the canal.
CAP officials believe they can meet the demands of existing customers even without the cushion the water bank and the farmers provided.
But if the drought worsened, the cities would be vulnerable.
Additional researched, recommended reading:
Arizona Water Bank (Southern Nevada Water Authority, or SNWA http://www.snwa.com): Nevada pays Arizona to store unused Colorado River water or other available river water for future use. Water is stored in the form of "credits." Arizona diverts additional Colorado River water and stores it in a groundwater "bank" on behalf of Nevada. When Nevada needs to recover some of this banked water, it will use its storage credits and withdraw a portion of Arizona's Colorado River water directly from Lake Mead. Arizona will then withdraw the same amount from its groundwater bank. For example, if Nevada has 20,000 acre-feet of unused Colorado River water is available, Nevada would pay Arizona to store it in an Arizona groundwater aquifer. When Nevada needs some of the water, it will withdraw what it needs out of Lake Mead. Arizona will in turn withdraw that same portion out of the supply banked in its groundwater aquifer. Under comprehensive water banking agreements with the Arizona Water Banking Authority, the Water Authority has the ability to store up to 1.25 million acre-feet in Arizona, if water conditions permit. http://www.snwa.com/html/resources_colrvr_azbank.html
The Central Arizona Project (CAP): http://www.cap-az.com/
CAP DEIS - The Central Arizona Project Draft Environmental Assessment (Please Note: Within the URL/website address is 'eis', which means 'Environmental Impact Statement', even though this is titled a Draft Environmental Assessment, or DEA)
U.S. Bureau Of Reclamation (USBR, BOR, BUREC)
Phoenix Area Office (PXAO)
2222 W. Dunlap Ave. Suite 100
Phoenix Arizona, 85021
BUREAU WIDE PROGRAMS
REACH 11 - RECREATION MASTER PLAN EIS / ROD
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK-WATER SUPPLY APPRAISAL STUDY
CASS 2004 REPORT (CASS - Central Arizona Salinity Study) 9 Chapters and 21 Appendices:
SAN CARLOS APACHE TRIBE CENTRAL ARIZONA PROJECT WATER EXCHANGE - DRAFT EA
REINITIATED: CENTRAL ARIZONA PROJECT REALLOCATION DRAFT EIS
http://www.usbr.gov/lc/phoenix/user/eis/sancarlos/scat_ea-exchange_no_images.pdf (49 pages - May 2004)
The Colorado River Basin Project (CRBP) - Central Arizona Project (CAP): http://www.usbr.gov/dataweb/html/crbpcap.html
EPA: Federal Register: Central Arizona Project, Indian Distribution Division, San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, Gila, Pinal and Graham Counties, Arizona.
[Federal Register: February 22, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 36)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Bureau of Reclamation
Central Arizona Project, Indian Distribution Division, San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, Gila, Pinal, and Graham Counties, AZ
AGENCY: Bureau of Reclamation, Interior.
ACTION: Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.
SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as
amended (NEPA), Reclamation proposes to prepare a draft environmental
impact statement (EIS) regarding delivery of Central Arizona Project (CAP) water to the San Carlos Apache Reservation (Reservation). This draft EIS will evaluate anticipated environmental impacts from alternative methods of delivering CAP water and other water resources, provided under the San Carlos Apache Water Rights Settlement Act of 1992 (Act). Currently, nine conceptual options are being investigated.
A No-Action alternative will also be analyzed. Public scoping meetings will be held to receive comments from affected and/or interested agencies and the general public on the environmental impacts, concerns, and issues that should be addressed in the EIS [see DATES].
DATES: To ensure consideration in the preparation of the draft EIS, written comments must be received by May 3, 2002 [see ADDRESSES, below]. The draft EIS is expected to be available for public review and comment in April 2003.
Public scoping meetings are schedule to be held on:
April 10, 2002, 5-8 p.m. in Bylas, Arizona.
April 11, 2002, 5-8 p.m. in San Carlos, Arizona.
ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Mr. Bruce Ellis, Chief, Environmental Resources Management Division, Bureau of Reclamation, Phoenix, Area Office (PXAO-1500), PO Box 81169, Phoenix, AZ 85069-1169; Fax: 602-216-4006.
The hearings will be held at the following locations:
Bylas--Stanley Hall, Highway 70, Bylas, Arizona.
San Carlos--Burdette Hall, San Carlos Avenue, San Carlos, Arizona.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. John McGlothlen at the above
address, telephone 602-216-3866.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The purpose of the project is to deliver CAP
water, and other water resources to the Reservation provided by the Act, to sustain and expand the San Carlos Apache Tribe's (Tribe) agricultural base and for other Tribal homeland purposes, in a manner that enhances efficient development, management, and delivery of Tribal water resources.
The Reservation encompasses about 2,960 square miles in portions of Gila, Graham, and Pinal Counties in east-central Arizona. Approximately
12,000 people live on the Reservation and rely on its local water resources for domestic, municipal, agricultural, and
industrial supply. Local water resources include flows of the Gila, Black, and Salt Rivers, other surface waters, and ground-water supplies which are available beneath the Cutter basin, San Carlos and Gila River valleys, and other areas of the Reservation. San Carlos Reservoir is another important local water resource.
In December 1980, the Tribe signed a CAP Indian Water Delivery Contract [IWDC] with the United States.
The CAP Indian Water Delivery Contract entitles the Tribe to 12,700 acre-feet per year of CAP Project Water, commits the United States to deliver Project Water to the Tribe, provides for exchange of Project Water to accomplish the contractual obligations, and sets forth the terms for repayment of construction and operation, maintenance, and replacement costs.
In 1992 Congress enacted the Act, which confirms and ratifies an Agreement entered into by the Tribe and neighboring non-Indian communities of the Salt and Gila River valleys regarding water rights claims between and among themselves, and authorizes the actions and appropriations necessary for the United States to fulfill its obligations to the Tribe as provided in the Agreement and the Act.
The total amount of water allocated to the Tribe and available for delivery to the Reservation under the CAP Indian Water Delivery Contract and the Act is 71,445 acre-feet per year. In addition, at least 6,000 acre-feet per year are also available to the Reservation as a result of the Gila River Decree. Portions of the Act not specific to the CAP include 7,300 acre-feet per year from the Black and/or Salt
Rivers and water from local Tribal water sources. The total volume of water that will be considered in project planning is 77,445 acre-feet per year, plus any water that may be available from local Tribal sources.
The draft EIS will evaluate reasonable alternative methods of delivering the CAP water and other waters described above to satisfy the project purposes. The development, evaluation, and selection of alternatives will begin with the identification of a broad list of project concepts that will be subjected to a feasibility screening based upon cultural, social, economic, technical, environmental, and legal factors.
To date, nine project concepts have been identified for screening. These are as follows:
Diversion from San Carlos Reservoir and conveyance via a canal to recharge portions of Cutter Basin and irrigate approximately 9,100 acres of Ranch Creek, Seven Mile Wash, San Carlos River, and neighboring areas;
Diversion from the Black River and conveyance via a tunnel and the existing channel of Rocky Gulch to recharge portions of the San Carlos Basin and irrigate approximately 11,000 acres of Seven Mile Wash, Sycamore Creek, Natural Corral Creek, San Carlos River, and neighboring areas;
Diversion from the Black River and conveyance via a tunnel and the existing channel of Rocky Gulch for storage behind Elgo Dam and to irrigate approximately 9,500 acres of Seven Mile Wash, Sycamore Creek, Natural Corral Creek, San Carlos River, and neighboring areas;
Diversion from San Carlos Reservoir and conveyance via canals to irrigate approximately 9,100 acres adjacent to the Gila River and in portions of the Ranch Creek, Gibson Wash, Seven Mile Wash, Sycamore Creek, Natural Corral Creek, San Carlos River, and neighboring areas;
Diversion from the Black River and conveyance via a tunnel to a reservoir constructed on Rocky Gulch, then conveyance via the existing channel of Rocky Gulch for storage behind Elgo Dam and to irrigate approximately 12,800 acres in portions of the Ranch Creek, Gibson Wash, Seven Mile Wash, Sycamore Creek, Natural Corral Creek, San Carlos River, and neighboring areas;
Diversion from the Gila River at a point east of Bylas, and conveyance via gravity to irrigate approximately 1,000 acres adjacent to the Gila River;
Construction of a diversion dam on the Gila River at a point east of Bylas, and conveyance to irrigate approximately 8,200 acres adjacent to the Gila River and in portions of the San Carlos River watershed;
Diversion from the Black River at a point near the confluence with Freezeout Creek, with conveyance via a canal to a reservoir constructed on Turkey Creek, to irrigate approximately 5,300 acres in the Turkey and Willow Creek areas;
Diversion from the Black River at a point near the confluence with Freezeout Creek, with conveyance via a tunnel and canal to a reservoir constructed on Bonita Creek, to irrigate approximately 10,200 acres in the Ash and Bonita Creeks and neighboring areas.
Public Meetings and Written Comments
The public will be invited to participate in the scoping process, and in review of the draft EIS. Additional descriptive information will be made available to interested parties prior to the public scoping meetings. Anyone interested in obtaining additional descriptive information prior to the public scoping meetings should contact John McGlothlen [see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT]. At each public scoping meeting, the Tribal CAP Project team will make a short
presentation. Oral and written comments from the audience will then be accepted. A court reporter will make a written record of all oral comments made.
Written comments received by Reclamation become part of the public record associated with this action. Accordingly, Reclamation makes these comments, including names and home addresses of respondents, available for public review. Individual respondents may request that we withhold their home address from public disclosure, which we will honor to the extent allowable by law. There also may be circumstances in which we would withhold a respondent's identity from public disclosure, as allowable by law. If you wish us to withhold your name and/or
address, you must state this prominently at the beginning of your comment. However, we will not consider anonymous comments. We will make all submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, available for public disclosure in their entirety.
Note: Hearing impaired, visually impaired, and/or mobility impaired persons planning to attend this meeting may arrange for necessary accommodations by calling Ms. Janice Kjesbo at Reclamation's Phoenix Area Office, 602-216-3864 or Fax: 602-216-4006, no later than two weeks prior to the meeting date.
Dated: February 14, 2002.
Robert W. Johnson, Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 02-4319 Filed 2-21-02; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-MN-P