On April 22, 1993, Governor Symington signed into law Senate Bill 1425 - The Groundwater Replenishment District Act. This Act creates a groundwater replenishment authority (or authorities) to be operated throughout CAWCD's service area boundaries. While other agencies may become a replenishment water provider, the Act does acknowledge that CAWCD provide a replenishment district for entities wanting (and needing) to become members of a replenishment district in order to meet Assured Water Supply rules. The Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (CAGRD) has the responsibility to utilize renewable water supplies to replenish the aquifer for excess groundwater used by its members. Membership in the CAGRD is voluntary, and all costs are to be paid by its members. The CAGRD is governed by the CAWCD Board of Directors.
The following is a summary of the key provisions of the Groundwater Replenishment District Act as it applies to CAWCD and its Board.
Plan of Operation
On or before June 1, 1994, the district must submit a plan to the Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) describing the activities that the CAGRD proposes to undertake during the following twenty years. The plan is subject to public review and hearing. Upon a decision by the Director that the plan is consistent with achieving the management goal of the active management area (AMA), and that the district is capable of carrying out the plan, the district may begin enrolling member lands and member service areas. A new plan must be submitted and approved every ten years.
Qualifications as Member Land
The law identifies the qualifications that must be met for a parcel of real property to enroll in the CAGRD. Key among these qualifications are the requirement for the owner to execute and record (1) a declaration against the property acknowledging that the owner, and all subsequent owners, are obligated to pay the annual replenishment assessment and that the district may impose a lien on the property to secure payment of the assessment, and (2) an agreement with the municipal water provider requiring that the provider submit annual reports to CAGRD, the State and the County.
Qualifications as Member Service Area
The law also identifies the qualifications that must be met for a service area of a municipal provider to be enrolled in the CAGRD. Key among these qualifications are the requirement that the provider publish and adopt a resolution acknowledging (1) its responsibility to submit annual reports and pay the annual replenishment tax to CAGRD, (2) that the current service area and all future extensions are subject to the replenishment taxes, and (3) that the resolution is irrevocable for as long as CAGRD is obligated to perform groundwater replenishment obligations.
Water providers serving member lands are required to submit annual reports showing the volume of groundwater and the volume of excess groundwater delivered to each parcel within a member land. Copies of these reports are to be submitted to CAGRD, ADWR, and the County Assessor. Water providers serving member service areas are required to submit an annual report to CAGRD and ADWR showing the total volume of groundwater delivered within the service area and the total amount of excess groundwater delivered.
For each AMA, the District must replenish groundwater in an amount equal to the groundwater replenishment obligation. The replenishment must be completed within three full years after the year in which the obligation was incurred, and it must be accomplished within the AMA from which the excess groundwater was pumped. For the Phoenix AMA, when reasonably feasible, excess groundwater pumped from the west portion of the AMA must be replenished in the west portion of the AMA and excess groundwater pumped from the east portion of the AMA must be replenished in the east portion of the AMA.
Replenishment Assessments and Taxes
For each AMA, the District must establish annually the costs and expenses of the CAGRD. Based on these costs and expenses, the District must levy an annual replenishment assessment against all parcels of member land and an annual replenishment tax against all municipal providers that have member service areas (separate calculations of the assessment are to be done for each AMA).
CAGRD Annual Reports
Annually, the CAGRD must submit a report to ADWR which shows the District's groundwater replenishment obligations and the replenishment which has been done to satisfy those obligations.
Water for Replenishment
The District may replenish groundwater with CAP water or water from any other lawfully available source except groundwater withdrawn from within an AMA. The District may acquire, hold, transport, own, exchange, lease, store or replenish water for the benefit of member lands and member service areas.
The District may acquire, develop, construct, operate, maintain, replace and acquire permits for water storage, storage facilities and recovery wells for replenishment purposes. The District may also use excess capacity in state demonstration projects for replenishment.
CAWCD Fund Advances
CAWCD may advance funds necessary for the installation, construction, repair, maintenance or replacement of replenishment projects. CAWCD may also advance funds to pay operation and administrative costs and expenses of CAGRD. Repayment of advances may be amortized over a reasonable period and at an interest rate established by the CAWCD Board of Directors.
Contracts to Replenish
CAGRD may enter into contracts for advance replenishment with water providers serving member service areas. All costs associated with such contracts must be paid by the contracting provider, and the contract cannot have adverse impacts on the District's ability to meet its other obligations.