LOVE has been "carping" about water being a strategic issue that Oro Valley must consider. It was not considered as part of the 2016 General Plan because it was simply overlooked.
Water is an issue because CAP water is going be restricted. When will restrictions take place? As soon as 2020. Arizona could lose as much as one seventh of its Colorado River water allotment, based on the latest agreement among the state that draw from Lake Meade. (source)
Governor Ducey stressed water as a strategic issue (source) on is visit to Tucson three weeks ago. He addressed it two weeks back when he unveiled the state's 2020 budget. He also specifically identified it as an issue when he was sworn in earlier this month. “Nearly four decades ago, in 1980, Arizona’s accelerated water consumption forced a sobering ultimatum from the federal government: reform or suffer severe water cutbacks. The can could not be kicked any further.” (source)
Arizona has not "reformed." It uses more water than ever.
Pinal County farmers will draw water exclusively from groundwater
Pinal County farmers grow "water hungry" cotton. They grow water hungry cantaloupe. They are going to lose substantial portions of CAP Water allocations and they will be allowed to draw water instead from the ground.
"Under the proposed drought plan, about 200 Pinal farmers are supposed to return to full groundwater pumping for the first time in more than 30 years. That would begin in 2022, after the third year of shortages in Central Arizona Project water deliveries to them from the Colorado River." (Arizona Daily Star)
How will this impact Oro Valley's groundwater supply?
Water is fungible. It moves below ground. It seeps. Pressure and gravity move it. Take two buckets of water. Connect then with a straw. Hold one above the other. The water flows until the water levels are at equal height from the ground. Water flows the same underground.
Oro Valleys' wells may seem far away from the farms of Pinal County. They are not. We suspect Oro Valley's pockets of well water will be impacted negatively when wells, maybe ten miles north of us, start a drawdown.
There will be less CAP water for Oro valley and it will cost more!
CAP water restriction will impact Oro Valley's water supply and its water plans because Oro Valley uses CAP water to recharge the ground water supply. You can read our many recent postings on this to understand the details. Those "last in" to get water from CAP will probably be the "first impacted." Arizona was last in. Oro Valley was last in our region to use CAP water. And, we don't drink it. We use it to replenish our wells. So, other will likely argue that Oro Valley doesn't really need CAP water.
When CAP restrictions take place, CAP water is going to be more expensive (Source). This finding was presented at the November 18 meeting of the CAP Board of Directors. The reason for this is that the fixed costs of operating the system will stay the same. However, there will be less water drawn. So, the cost per water unit will be higher.
What are Oro Valley's plans for this eventuality?
We are meeting with Oro Valley Water Director Abraham next week. We will discuss his perspectives on this water crisis and the impact on Oro Valley's present and future water supply. We will let you know his thoughts.