The Central Arizona Project: A Comprehensive Guide

The Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD) was established in 1971 to manage infrastructure and reimburse the federal government for the construction costs of the Central Arizona Project (CAP). This was made possible after President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Colorado River Basin Projects Act in 1968, which authorized the Reclamation Office to build the CAP. Initially, agriculture was to be the main beneficiary of the CAP, as it was founded by the Central Arizona Project Association to promote supplemental water for Arizona's agricultural economy.

However, Wilson and Martin warned that Arizona farmers would not benefit from the CAP before Congress approved it. This led to Larry Linser, deputy director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources (DWR), stressing the importance of having a proposal that demonstrates a viable use of its CAP allocation. To this end, Wilson proposed the formation of a multi-institutional working group composed of representatives from numerous organizations with a personal interest in solving CAP problems. In addition, Miller has complained that Arizona has not properly considered leasing unused CAP water to states in need, such as California and Nevada. Some observers are also concerned that some tribes cannot economically use large amounts of water and are in a similar situation to non-indigenous farmers in Arizona.

Zúñiga noted that the 1947 plan envisaged “importing 1.2 million acre-feet to central Arizona and using them on existing agricultural land”.In conclusion, farms that survive in central Arizona will be more technologically intensive due to less planted area and more value being obtained per acre than in the past. To this end, CAWCD was assigned responsibility for creating and managing Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District.

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