By Adam Gaub
An agreement between the Gila River Indian Community and utilities provider SRP is likely to have long-term benefits for many Pinal County communities.
After a federal water settlement in 2004, GRIC secured more than 300,000 acre-feet of CAP water, making it the largest receiver of CAP water in the state. While the community has long-term plans for how it will utilize the water, it has made some of it available over the past several years to irrigation districts throughout Pinal County, allowing them to avoid the higher costs associated with pumping their own water.
What the community is now proposing is to make 30,000 acre feet of water available for a 100-year lease, which should help to spur continued growth in the county for future development.
Additionally, said GRIC contracted attorney Jason Hauter, the community can sell credits to some of its water to Valley and Pinal communities on a more short-term basis.
“Those credits allow us to meet needs without tying the water up over long-term leases,” he said. “The focus will be around our borders. The community recognizes the benefit in having a healthy underground water system to help some of our neighbors meet their water needs.