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  • Writer's pictureMark L. Johnson

Water Woes XXVI-Old Water~New Water


Southwest Big Picture-Old Water~New Water


 

Old Water (Colorado River)


Water Woes XXI-H2O Hits The Fan (4/16/23) covered the proposed Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) For Near Term Colorado River Operations by the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR). Tortolita Alliance (TA) recommended Alternative 2 as the Preferred Alternative because the additional water shortage volumes for Lake Mead elevations below 1,025’ were determined by a constant percentage (13.11%) of 2021 consumptive use, which is fair and reasonable.


Since then, the Colorado River Reservoir system water levels have improved (at least for one year) due to the Upper Colorado River Basin receiving above normal snowpack--- resulting in very good runoff during the 2023 Water Year.


Now the USBR has come out with a Revised Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (RSEIS) For Near Term Colorado River Operations. The RSEIS Preferred Alternative is summarized in Table 2-4 below:




For the RSEIS Preferred Alternative, the Lower Basin States will contribute a total of 3.0 million acre feet (maf) of SEIS Conservation for the period 2023-2026. California is required to conserve about half of the 750 maf annual SEIS Conservation.


For comparative purposes, if Lake Mead Elevation is between 1040' and 1035', under the previous Alternative 2, the total shortage was 2,083 maf and Arizona's share was 1,075 maf. Under the new Preferred Alternative, the amount of total shortage would be 1,667 maf and Arizona's share would be 920 maf---a reduction of about 14%.


TA does not intend to submit an official comment letter on the RSEIS because the deal is done. The real issue that the USBR and Basin States must tackle is the long-term, permanent reductions required. TA stands firm on its recommended 20% permanent cut to all Colorado River delivery contracts. See Colorado River System-Cut 20.



New Water (Desal & Other Imported Water)

Water Woes XIX-New Water Issues & Who Pays? examined the proposed sole-source desalination project put forth by an Israeli company (IDE Technologies) with the Arizona Water Infrastructure Finance Authority (WIFA). TA recommended that Arizona put a stop to this sole source desalination plan and look at the big picture and actually solicit competetive proposals.


We are please to report that WIFA has nixed the sole-source deal with IDE Technologies and will be soliciting competitive New Water proposals.



TA continues to support its recommendation that any New Water plan (desalination or other water import proposal) be a regional solution for the entire southwest and take into consideration the environmental disaster at the Salton Sea.



In addition, the cost of New Water should only be borne by new users that place incremental water demands beyond that of the existing water supply capacity. For water agencies without surplus non-groundwater water supplies, any new growth requiring New Water would compel developers and/or the New Water users to pay the incremental cost of New Water. See Arizona Daily Star Opinion (1/23/23) below.



Tucson Daily Star-Opinion-New Users Should Pay For New Water-ML Johnson-1-21-22
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