Dictionary: Use the ADWR Dictionary Print this page Bookmark this page eMail a link to this page Text Size: Decrease text sizeEACH CLICK increases text size   skip navigation
AZ.gov Arizona's Official Website Arizona Water Banking Authority
Arizona Water Banking Authority Arizona Water Banking Authority's Official Web Site
Banking Water Now for Arizona's Future



Since the turn of the century, Arizona leaders have worked to ensure that Arizona's communities have dependable long-term water supplies. From securing the state's fair share of Colorado River water and gaining Congressional authorization of the Central Arizona Project (CAP) to crafting the 1980 Groundwater Management Code, their foresight and planning has provided the water supply that serves our growing communities and maintains our quality of life.  In 1996, Arizona leaders continued the tradition by creating the Arizona Water Banking Authority (Authority).

Prior to 1996, Arizona did not use its full 2.8 million acre feet share of Colorado River water.  At the time, Arizona was not expected to use its full allocation until the year 2030. During that interim period, the cumulative amount of water expected to be left in the Colorado River would have amounted to approximately 14 million acre-feet. Most of that water would have gone to southern California.

Because of Arizona’s junior priority, using 100 per cent of Arizona’s entitlement to Colorado River water each year is a necessary strategy for Arizona to create as dependable of a water supply as possible to ensure the long-term prosperity of the State including during times of shortage.  Water stored by the AWBA is used to:

  • Assure adequate supply to municipal and industrial users, in the CAP service area and along the Colorado River, in times of shortages and during disruptions of the CAP system;
  • Meet  management plan objectives of the Arizona Groundwater Code;
  • Meet State obligations pursuant to Indian Water Rights Settlements;
  • Assist Colorado River priority four municipal and industrial users in developing credits that could be used to increased their future supplies; and
  • Assist Nevada and California through interstate water banking.

Each year, the AWBA pays the water delivery and storage costs to bring Colorado River water into Central and Southern Arizona through the Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal.  The water is either stored underground in aquifers (direct recharge) at underground storage facilities (USF) or is used by irrigation districts in lieu of pumping groundwater (indirect or in lieu recharge) at groundwater savings facilities (GSF).   The AWBA accrues a long-term storage credit that can be recovered and used in the future during times of a shortage in supply.  In 2014, the AWBA was also given the authority to purchase existing long-term storage credits for the same purposes for which the AWBA has historically stored water.

In recent times, funding for water banking purposes has come from two sources:  groundwater withdrawal fees collected by ADWR and ad valorem property taxes collected by CAWCD.  While the AWBA has used general fund appropriations to develop credits in the past, such funds have not been made availble since FY 2007.  For each source of monies, there are restrictions regarding the manner in which these funds can be expended. The AWBA has also stored water on behalf of the State of Nevada. Interstate storage costs are paid by Nevada in years when storage occurs.


For more detailed information about the AWBA visit the following background links: