What is the Underground Water Storage Program?
It is a program administered by the Arizona Department of Water Resources, formally called Arizona’s Underground Water Storage, Savings and Replenishment program. The program was designed to encourage the use of renewable water supplies to satisfy existing water needs, to allow for flexible storage of renewable water supplies not currently needed, and to preserve nonrenewable groundwater supplies. The program is also designed to facilitate efficient management of water supplies by allowing storage of water in one location and recovery in a different location.
Sierra Vista is not an Active Management area and is therefore not strictly required to obtain ADWR permits in order to recharge water. However, the City’s Environmental Operations Park (EOP), where the City’s recharge facility is located is permitted and monitored by ADWR. The permit guidelines ensure that recharge is effective and does not cause harm to other entities. ADWR regularly monitors the City’s recharge facility and maintains a long-term storage account balance for the facility.
Is this program helpful to Sierra Vista?
Absolutely. Through its monitoring and long-term storage calculations, ADWR has determined that since the Environmental Operations Park opened in July of 2002 through the end of the reporting period in December 2007, the City has been credited with an “account balance” of 10,702 acre-feet of water. That means that more than 3.5 billion gallons of water have been returned to the aquifer through the City’s recharge project.
The City’s recharge numbers are used to help balance the pumping deficit for the Sierra Vista sub-watershed, and thus to help Fort Huachuca meet its water mitigation goals. In addition to returning water to the aquifer, the City’s Environmental Operations Park (EOP) was also designed to protect the flows of the San Pedro River by recharging water between the river and the cone of depression created by pumping the water that is used by City and Fort residents. ADWR’s monitoring and reporting confirms that both of these goals are being met.
Information from the Arizona Department of Water Resources: Long-Term Storage Account Balance Report.