ADWR Director to provide congressional testimony on Wednesday on behalf of tribal settlement

Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke on Wednesday will express Arizona’s strong support for an important tribal settlement before a subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee.

Director Buschatzke is scheduled to testify before the House Committee on Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife on H.R. 2459, the Hualapai Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act of 2019.

The federal legislation approves a settlement agreement involving the tribe and state parties that includes providing the tribe with 4,000 acre-feet per year of Central Arizona Project water from the Colorado River. The settlement also includes the planning, design and construction of the “Hualapai Water Project,” which includes a pipeline capable of delivering 3,414 acre-feet per year to the tribal reservation at Peach Springs and beyond to the tribe’s major tourist attractions at Grand Canyon West.

Approval by Congress would authorize an appropriation of $134.5 million for construction of the Project, $32 million for operation, maintenance and replacement costs by the Tribe, and $7 million for use by the Secretary of the Interior in operating the water project before title is conveyed to the Tribe. The funding also provides technical assistance to prepare the Tribe for the operation of the Project.

For the Hualapai Tribe, the settlement provides a renewable water supply and the infrastructure to convey that water supply from the Colorado River to critical areas on the Tribe’s reservation.

“The State of Arizona strongly supports this legislation,” said Director Buschatzke.

“Half of the 22 federally recognized Indian tribes in Arizona still have unresolved water rights claims. Resolving these claims through settlement is a priority for the State.”

This appearance is the second time this year that Director Buschatzke has testified before the House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife. On March 28, he joined other representatives of the Colorado River Basin States, as well as Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman, speaking on behalf the successful effort to pass the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan.

The Director also testified on Capitol Hill in support of the Hualapai Tribe water-rights settlement on December 6, 2017.

Who: ADWR Director Tom Buschatzke

What: Testimony on behalf of H.R. 2459, sponsored by Rep. Tom O’Halleran of Arizona

Where: Before the Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife of the House Natural Resources Committee

When: 2 p.m. (EDT); 11 a.m. (MST)

First meeting of the Management Plans Work Group set for July 9

The Management Plans Working Group is the stakeholder forum for the development of the Active Management Areas Fifth Management Plans, with a goal of working to assess existing AMA conservation programs and to develop new management strategies for the 5th management period and beyond.

The first meeting will detail the recommendations of the Arizona Department of Water Resources for the remaining 4th Management Plans and begin discussions of the research and analysis needed to begin work on the 5th Management Plans.

These meetings are open to the public, and webinar information will be available upon request. Meeting information, agendas, and other documents will be posted at

When: Tuesday, July 9, 2019, 1:00pm – 2:30pm
Where: ADWR main offices; 1110 W. Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85007; Conference Room 3175

Who: ADWR; direct questions to 

ADWR Director Tom Buschatzke presented with Arizona Chamber’s 2019 Transformational Initiative Award

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June 15, 2019                                                                                               PHONE: 602.771.8507

ADWR Director Tom Buschatzke presented with Arizona Chamber’s 2019 Transformational Initiative Award
Chamber award presentation
ADWR Director Tom Buschatzke (third from left) accepting the 2019 Transformational Initiative Award from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry. From left: Susan Anable, chair of the Chamber Board; Lisa Atkins, chair of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District Board (accepting on behalf of co-recipient Ted Cooke, General Manager of the Central Arizona Project); Buschatzke; and, Glenn Hamer, President and CEO of the Arizona Chamber

PHOENIX – The Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry today presented its Transformational Initiative Award for 2019 to Tom Buschatzke, Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, for leading the successful effort to win support for the Drought Contingency Plan in Arizona. The Arizona campaign cleared the path for the May 20 passage of the system-wide plan to help protect and stabilize the Colorado River.

Director Buschatzke shared the 2019 Transformational Initiative Award with the co-chairman of the Arizona DCP campaign, Ted Cooke, General Manager of the Central Arizona Project.

“I’m grateful to the Chamber for recognizing the importance of water to Arizona’s economy,” said Director Buschatzke.

“While this is considered an individual award, the passage of the DCP legislation in Arizona would not have been possible without the strong support of nearly every sector of water-users statewide, to say nothing of the invaluable support of the Governor and the Legislature.”

“I’m deeply appreciative, too, of the countless hours of work that my staff put into the DCP effort. They share this award with me.”

The Chamber annually celebrates legislators and business leaders who demonstrate transformational leadership by creating a vision for positive change in Arizona. The 2018 Transformational Initiative Award went to State Treasurer Eileen Klein. Klein was celebrated for her leadership as chief-of-staff for then-Governor Jan Brewer in the years following the Great Recession.

Director Buschatzke and General Manager Cooke organized the strong, statewide push for the DCP beginning on June 28, 2018.

Together, they formed a Steering Committee comprised of water users from throughout Arizona and, ultimately, found common ground in support of legislation authorizing Director Buschatzke to sign the system-wide drought plan on behalf of Arizona.

Governor Doug Ducey signed the Arizona legislation on January 31, 2019. Today, the Chamber also honored the Governor with its top leadership award, the Milton Friedman Award.


ADWR Director to present on potential impacts of DCP at Colo River conference

GWC_Conference 2019

Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke will participate Thursday in a panel discussion on “Charting a Better Course for the Colorado River” at the annual Getches-Wilkinson Center Summer Conference in Boulder, Colo.

Buschatzke’s panel discussion will delve into expectations for the new management guidelines on the Colorado River system, including the new Drought Contingency Plans that were signed on May 20 at an event at Hoover Dam. The panel also will discuss expectations for the new Guidelines for river management that must be worked out before the existing Guidelines expire in 2026.

Panelists will consider how (or, whether) the  DCPs may provide a “roadmap” for reaching agreement on those post-2026 Guidelines.

As noted in the GWC Summer Conference schedule of events, “(n)owhere was the DCP road more turbulent, and the upcoming implementation more salient, than in Arizona.”

The discussion, which begins at 9:00 a.m. (MST) will be recorded and livestreamed. It will be available for viewing here.


It’s Not How Fast You Run, It’s How You Cross The Finish Line

Arizona has worked over the course of several years with the other States in the Colorado River Basin and the United States to develop an interstate Drought Contingency Plan to protect Colorado River supplies. And finally, on May 20, 2019, we were able to cross the finish line and say it’s “done.”

So, while everything is moving forward, we thought we could take a moment to slow down and reflect on how we got to this point.

June 13, 2018 – Reclamation Commissioner Calls For Action On Lake Mead “Contingency” Plans

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In a presentation on May 22 before the board of the nation’s largest irrigation district, the Imperial Irrigation District of southern California, Commissioner Burman urged all seven Colorado River system states – to take action “this year” on drought contingency plans to reduce the risk that Lake Mead may fall below tolerable levels.

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June 21, 2018 – Water Resources & Central Arizona Project Partner For Briefing On Drought Contingency Plan


The Arizona Department of Water Resources and the Central Arizona Project co-sponsored a panel to discuss the systemic risks posed by potential shortage, as well as announce the kick off of an Arizona discussion on how to adopt and implement the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan.

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July 6, 2018 – Planning For Second Drought Contingency Plan Briefing Underway


The June 28 briefing closed with the announcement that an “Arizona Steering Committee” will be formed to discuss and recommend how to adopt and implement the Drought Contingency Plan in the Lower Basin of the Colorado River system in a way that is acceptable to Arizona water users.

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July 18, 2018 – ADWR, CAP And Bureau Of Reclamation Respond To Questions About Drought Contingency Plan


Demonstrating their commitment to address growing risks to Arizona’s Colorado River supply, Arizona and federal water leaders answered questions from the public for nearly three hours in central Phoenix.

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September 5, 2018 – The DCP Makes CO River Delivery Shortfalls Less Painful, But It Doesn’t Make Them Go Away


Tom Buschatzke, Arizona Department of Water Resources Director, and Ted Cooke, Central Arizona Project General Manager discussed how the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan, is designed to keep Lake Mead from further dropping to the most critical elevation levels, at which point Arizona’s Colorado River water users would be facing deep cuts to their water supplies and the river system would be in extreme stress.

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October 17, 2018 – How Will AZDCP Fit Into The Colorado River Basin Drought Contingency Plan?


The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released drafts of the Upper Basin DCP and Lower Basin DCP documents. That gave the first glimpse at what will be included in the interstate agreement amongst the Upper Basin and Lower Basin states.

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December 20, 2018 – Getting To The Finish Line: What’s Next For Colorado River Drought Contingency Planning?


Within Arizona, stakeholders had been working to develop an Implementation Plan, a series of agreements that will govern the way that certain terms of the DCP will be implemented within Arizona once the DCP is effective.

The Implementation Plan was nearly in place. However, we were not yet able to say it was “done.”

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CO River Basin States Submit Drought Plans To Congress; USBR Rescinds Fed. Reg. Notice 


The seven states of the Colorado River Basin system took a huge step forward toward protecting and stabilizing their drought-threatened system on Tuesday, March 19, signing a Letter to Congress encouraging swift and necessary congressional action.

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March 29, 2019 – Colorado River DCP Proposals Get A Positive, Enthusiastic Reception In Congress


Support in Congress for the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plans took a big step forward in March when lawmakers on a key House subcommittee expressed bipartisan – and, in many cases, enthusiastic – support for the effort to help stabilize the drought-troubled river system.

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April 12, 2019 – Congress Zips Into Action, Quickly Approving Long-Sought CO River DCP Authorization Act


The proposal to take federal action on behalf of the troubled Colorado River system morphed seemingly overnight into a legislative IndyCar powered by an astonishing level of bipartisan support.

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May 20, 2019 – DCP Signing Ceremony at Hoover Dam


“This is certainly a Day to Remember… it certainly is not the end, but it is a step forward.” – Tom Buschatzke, Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources

ADWR completes groundwater flow model update of North Santa Cruz AMA

5.10.2019 Santa_Cruz_River

Photo courtesy of University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center

Arizona Department of Water Resources hydrologists have completed an update  to the North Santa Cruz Active Management Area groundwater flow model, the first such updates since the release of modeling reports on the NSCAMA in 2007 and 2010.

The model is updated to include data for the approximately 14-year period beginning in 2002 through water year 2016. The calibrated, extended model will be used to provide model-simulated estimates of natural recharge and discharge components for the draft Fourth Management Plan for the Santa Cruz AMA.

Overall, the NSCAMA model update did not produce any big surprises or changes in the Department’s interpretation of the hydrology in  the area.

However, the groundwater flow model update did reinforce the importance to the NSCAMA aquifer of “episodic flood pulses” — episodes, usually lasting days or weeks, when runoff from large rainfall events flows into the Santa Cruz River and increases the amount of surface flow, often by orders of magnitude.

Water levels in the Santa Cruz AMA are largely dependent on stream recharge, which varies significantly from year to year in response to streamflow coming down the Santa Cruz River. That recharge mostly occurs as a result of those episodic flood pulses generated by substantial rain events.

The North Santa Cruz AMA aquifer is a narrow, shallow basin that provides less long-term storage capacity than wider, deeper aquifers such as that of the Tucson and Phoenix AMAs. Especially following major rain events, water flows through the aquifer quickly because the soil properties are such that the conductivities are very high.

The model update found that groundwater pumping in the southern Tucson AMA is continuing to impact water levels in the northern Santa Cruz AMA north of the town of Tubac.

From 1997 to 2016, water levels in this area have been steadily dropping – up to 45 feet, using 1997-1998 as the baseline.

The northern portion of the Santa Cruz AMA is simulated as a model separate from the southern portion due to the  distinct hydrologic regimes along the upper and lower reaches of the Santa Cruz River within the AMA.

For further information regarding the model update of the North Santa Cruz AMA, contact Sally Stewart Lee at ADWR.




Governor’s Water Augmentation, Innovation and Conservation Council


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Apr. 25, 2019                                                                                        PHONE: 602.771.8530

Governor’s Water Augmentation, Innovation, and Conservation Council Update
Arizona will continue water partnerships after DCP legislation

PHOENIX – In January, following the signing of the historic Drought Contingency Plan for Arizona, Governor Doug Ducey ordered the creation of a new council with a long-term focus on water augmentation, innovation and conservation. The Governor’s Water Augmentation, Innovation and Conservation Council (Council) was created by an Executive Order signed Jan. 31, 2019.

“We aren’t going to wait 40 years to begin the process for Arizona’s next big step to secure our water future,” said Governor Ducey. “We’re going to continue building upon the great work we have done this year so Arizona remains a leader in water management and conservation.”

The Council expands and replaces the original Governor’s Water Augmentation Council (GWAC), formed as part of the Governor’s Water Initiative in 2015. The newly expanded council will investigate water innovation and conservation strategies in addition to water augmentation. The Council will have four committees focused on desalination, finances, long-term water augmentation and recycled water.

The Council held its first meeting on Friday, March 8 at the offices of the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR). The Council will meet quarterly with the next meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. June 13. All Council meetings are open to the public.

The members serving on the Council are:
Basilo Aja, Arizona Cattle Feeders Association;
Lisa Atkins, Arizona State Land Department;
David Brown, Brown and Brown Law Offices;
Thomas Buschatzke (Chair), ADWR;
Misael Cabera, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality;
Chris Camacho, Greater Phoenix Economic Council ;
Ted Cooke, Central Arizona Water Conservation District;
Maria Dadgar, Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona;
Ronald Doba, Northern Arizona Municipal Water Users Association;
Sandra Fabritz, Freeport Minerals Co.;
Kathleen Ferris, attorney;

Grady Gammage, Gammage & Burnham;
William Garfield, Arizona Water Company;
Patrick Graham, the Nature Conservancy;
Glenn Hamer, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry;
Spencer Kamps, Home Builders Association of Central Arizona;
Jamie Kelley, Mohave County Water Authority;
John Kmiec, Southern Arizona Water Users Association;
Governor Stephen Roe Lewis, Gila River Indian Community;
Cheryl Lombard, Valley Partnership;
Edward P. Maxwell, Southern Arizona Leadership Council;
Stephen Q. Miller, Pinal County;
Hunter Moore, Gov. Doug Ducey Natural Resources Policy Advisor;
Wade Noble, Noble Law;
Virginia O’Connell, Arizona Water Banking Authority;
Chairman Dennis Patch, Colorado River Indian Tribes;
Sarah Porter, Kyl Center;
Philip Richards, Arizona Public Service;
Dave Roberts, Salt River Project;
Kevin Rogers, Arizona Cotton Growers Association;
Stefanie Smallhouse, Arizona Farm Bureau;
Mark Smith, Yuma Irrigation District;
Craig Sullivan, County Supervisors Association of Arizona;
Warren Tenney, Arizona Municipal Water Users Association;
Timothy Thomure, City of Tucson Water Department;
Philip Townsend, Sunland Chemical Co.;
Christopher Udall, Agribusiness & Water Council;
Jay Whetten, Arizona Cattlemen’s Association;
Rep. Rusty Bowers, Speaker of the House;
Sen. Sine Kerr designee for Sen. Karen Fann, President of the Senate;
Rep. Charlene Fernandez, House Minority Leader; and
Sen. Lisa Otondo, designee for Sen. David Bradley, Senate Minority Leader.
This new Executive Order (2019-02) supersedes and rescinds Executive Order 2015-13 which formed the original GWAC.


Celebration! Is It So Wrong To Revel In Good Water News For A Change?

Is it so wrong to want to revel in good water news a bit?

After enduring more than 19 years of lingering drought in the Southwest and its implications for the Colorado River system, we think not.

This month, Congress has passed, and the President has signed into law, the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act, which permits the Secretary of the Interior to sign a DCP agreement with the Seven Basin States.

Considering the very serious potential consequences of Lake Mead water levels falling to critically low levels, that is truly something worthy of celebration. So, too, was the remarkable bipartisanship and leadership on display among the Arizona congressional delegation, which led the DCP effort in in both the House and Senate.

On top of that, hydrology reports both in-state and in the Colorado River system indicate a 2019 winter snowpack that in many cases is well above average.

The implications of the Bureau of Reclamation’s recent April 2019 24-Month Study of projections for the 2020 water year (and, as the name implies, the next 24 months) are especially significant.

The Bureau updates its projections each month, but the April report and the August report are critical in determining how much water will be released from Lake Powell into Lake Mead in the coming year. The elevation levels forecasted to be in each of those reservoirs at the end of each year trigger those releases.

Up until the 2019 snowpack in the Rocky Mountains began seriously building in February, the odds of a first-ever shortage declaration in water deliveries in 2020 were better than even. With every 24-Month Study report from February onward, however, those odds decreased. By the recent April report, the Bureau’s analysts expressed confidence that Lake Mead would likely start 2020 “almost 10 feet above the shortage determination trigger of 1,075 feet.”

As reported by the Bureau, the improved hydrology allows Lake Powell’s operation this year to shift to a “balancing” release of up to 9.0 million acre-feet into Lake Mead.

As Bureau Commissioner Brenda Burman noted, this year’s snowpack “is welcome news.”

Still, she noted, “one good year cannot reverse the effects of nearly two decades of severe drought. Current total Colorado River System storage is approximately 45% of full capacity.”

President signs Colorado DCP Authorization Act, clearing path to finalize historic agreement

President Trump this afternoon signed the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act, the federal legislation that opens the door for the Secretary of the Interior to sign the vital drought plan along with the governor’s representatives of the Seven Basin States.

Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke will sign on behalf of Governor Ducey. Buschatzke himself was authorized to sign the agreement on January 31 by an act of the Arizona Legislature, which the governor promptly signed.

The DCP is an agreement among the Colorado River states to take steps to protect Lake Mead in the event of a shortage declaration. Years in the making, the agreement would help protect Lake Mead water levels from falling into critical depths.

Introduced to Congress in late March, the DCP Authorization Act flew through both the U.S. Senate and House, thanks in no small part to the strong support provided by the Arizona congressional delegation, notably Sen. Martha McSally and Rep. Raul Grijalva, both of whom played key roles.

Within eleven days of its introduction, on April 8, both the House and Senate approved the legislation by acclimation and sent the Act to the President’s desk for his signature.