EXCLUSIVE BREAKING: Rose Law Group reports on ADWR  meeting regarding Maricopa County water issues

By Sam DeMoss | Rose Law Group Reporter

The Arizona Dept. of Water Resources, on a call explaining the recent news of water issues in Maricopa County ended, their presentation with the statement in a power point saying, “We are not running out of water.”

They went on to explain that the water modeling updates released yesterday from the Arizona Department of Water Resources are a prediction of the next 100 years of water supply, not a comment on current availability or production. This model is an inflection point and they added that there is plenty of time to make water decisions. Existing homes have assured water supply that is not vulnerable. Additionally, there are significant volumes of groundwater and other water for growth. Water suppliers in the AMA have diverse water supplies other than groundwater for options as well: surface water, recycled water, and water saved from future technological advancements. Currently issued assured water supply certificates will not be revoked or modified. For the time being, new assured water supply certificates as required for single-family residential development will be approved based only on water sources other than groundwater. The current model predicts and overuse of 4% in the next 100 years. This modeling and resulting policy does not in any way affect industrial, office, multi family, or commercial development. It only applies to single-family residential.

Issues with the Model

The model is based on a closed scope of data based on certain assumption decisions made by the modelers. The primary assumption issue is that the model does not anticipate retirement of agricultural lands for urban uses beyond the year 2021. Additionally, the projections are based on historical water use actions in the last 100 year, so it does not account for future conditions beyond current behavior of water use. It does not account for water use behavior or supply changes such as desalination technologies, relocation of wells, more water efficient buildings or deepening of pumping. There is potential opportunity to make decisions and adjust demand calculation to rerun the model, which would greatly alleviate the severity of its predictions. Additionally, unbuilt demand assumption for current permits is incorporated without actual numbers for how much individual developments will use. The model is a single snapshot and simulation, and the outcomes of the model can change significantly based on updates to the assumptions.

Moving Forward

ADWR also reports this will not stop designated providers from expanding their service areas which is a solution that Rose Law Group worked on when ADWR made this same announcement in Pinal County. This is an issue for those who do not have certificates of assured supply. Rose Law Group worked diligently with landowners, ADWR and water providers years ago to resolve this same issue for individual landowners in Pinal County. We intend to do the same here. If you want to discuss further please contact Jordan Rose at jrose@roselawgroup.com.

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June 2023