Friday, December 11, 2009

Kingman Colorado River allocations just another deposit in the bank.

Arizona House of Representative, Nancy McLain is keeping her promise to once again initiate a bill this coming session to pass legislation to lift the industrial use only allocation from the remaining 3500 acre feet of Colorado River water allocations still held by the city of Kingman. Water availability is a concern to all of us. Many of us fail to understand the terms, laws or the regulative authorities involved through out the State. Many base our opinion and understanding of information relayed upon what is applicable or tangible to us.

The Colorado River is regulated by the Federal Bureau of Reclamation. It would serve us well to understand that this is not State regulated water, although the state of Arizona does have authority to regulate its allotted water from the Colorado River. This is done primarily in conjunction with the Central Arizona Project, an active management area (AMA) better known as CAP. For now, forget what you may think you know about groundwater, surface water, AMA's, property rights, wells and basins. It is important that we all understand how the Colorado River allocations came to be:

Keep in mind that this agreement created a "bank" so that receivers could maintain their allocation excesses to prevent or ease the short term drought conditions or future availability declines. This was the beginning of the term "banking water", or to bank water credits. Originally intended to be shared among the States within their designated regions, as the demand for water became more prevalent in other States, the banked water is now being looked at by the Lower Colorado River Basin States as a solution for places as far from the river itself as San Antonio, Texas. Which brings into play the yet to be determined, "third party impact".

How Arizona may be affected seems alarming:

Remember, we are talking about Colorado River allocations now, not basins or wells or even Arizona surface water. The point needs to be made that Arizona has other resources as I am sure do the other seven states benefiting from the Colorado River allocations. This is key since Mohave County is sitting on four very large basins and though most of us in our area think that the Colorado River water has nothing to do with us, it does. As these allocations become less available, our basin water will become more vulnerable to the demands of the larger populations in the southern portions of the State.

Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City are "river communities". They have been very successful in keeping up the pace with their allotted river allocations and the politics that go with preserving those allocations. They have actively participated with Phoenix in banking their allocation excesses so why would they need to change legislation to purchase the remaining 3500 ac ft of industrial use only allocations from Kingman? Two thoughts come to mind. When you "bank" water, you are not storing actual water in a big reservoir to keep in reserve for when you need it. You are banking "credits", the water doesn't exist, it is just your interest or entitlement to that water that exists. So even though they have credits or water banked in Phoenix, it does not mean that Phoenix has the actual water to back those credits up. The river level rises and falls depending upon actual rainfall/snowfall run-offs, demand of use and the codes of threat advisory Homeland Security feels the dams may be under. It cannot be accurately predicted from one year to the next. CAP banks its credits with the other participating states of the Lower Colorado River Basin, which means it may not have the available water to access to send back down the line.

The other is as simple as the reasoning behind our Nation's current economic crisis that we have all been trying to sort out, greed. It is easy to bank credits that investors and lenders earn revenues from through the trade of shared interest, and we do all love to see those statements that show that our interest or account balance has grown. (Just ask Bernie's investors) But when the water banking bubble bursts, it is going to take more than a Stimulus Plan, Bailout or printing more money to keep us afloat. It will be Mohave County's actual water supply and economic development with it on the line to secure that Bullhead City, Lake Havasu City and the great state of Maricopa continue to thrive.

Now think wells, basins and surface water. That is where the "third party impact" is going to play out for us locally. Maybe it is also time to re-think pipeline and re-visit other possible solutions or explore new options. It is past time that we started considering the influence of the Colorado River allocations to Mohave County, we have to catch up with available resource options, educate ourselves politically, become as water savvy of the Colorado River allocations as we are groundwater. Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City are very versed on the applications and terms surrounding the Colorado River allocations, for them groundwater language, specifically aquifers not regulated by AMA's, and its applications are what is lacking fluency. Do not think for one moment that will hold them back or the MCWA from selling Kingman's allocations literally, down the river.

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