Agency approves water deal with Gila River Indian Community

GRIC and the Salt River Project formed a limited liability corporation about five years ago with the purpose “of providing 5 million acre-feet of renewable water supplies to central Arizona.”

 

By Heather Smathers | PinalCentral

The agency that runs the Central Arizona Project, Arizona’s largest resource for renewable water supplies, approved a deal to acquire water from the Gila River Indian Community.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District will get access to water from the Gila River Indian Community over 25 years. The agreement has an initial cost of $97.5 million.

The Gila River Indian Community Council will take up the agreement next week. If it approves the agreement, the federal government will need to sign off as well.

According to CAP spokeswoman DeEtte Person, GRIC and the Salt River Project formed a limited liability corporation about five years ago with the purpose “of providing 5 million acre-feet of renewable water supplies to central Arizona.”

The non-Indian agricultural priority water lease provisions (up to 18,185 acre-feet) will only be operative when this lower priority water supply is available. CAGRD will only pay for the supply, or portion of the supply available for delivery in a given year, Person said.

State Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, whose district includes Pinal County and the GRIC, met with Gila River Gov. Stephen Lewis on Thursday to discuss a potential agreement that would benefit Pinal County farmers, similar to the CAP deal reached.

“The Community owns Colorado River water rights and they don’t use them all,” Cook explained to PinalCentral.

Cook said he is hopeful a deal can be reached where GRIC is fairly compensated for wet water that could be used for Pinal farmers.

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