The Arizona Department of Water Resources is charged with the protection and management of Arizona’s allocation of Colorado River water.

The Colorado River Management Section of the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) represents the State of Arizona in policy negotiations of Colorado River operations and administration of entitlements. Achieving a careful balance between agricultural, urban, tribal, international and environmental needs is the key to maintaining the long-term availability of Colorado River water supplies.

Because the Colorado River is one of the few perennial water supplies for some of the hottest and most arid areas of the United States, its waters have been the subject of debate and competition for many years. The Colorado River provides water to over 30 million people and to nearly two million acres of farmland in Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming. Hydroelectric plants on the river generate nearly 13 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. Since the river is so vital to the economies of the southwestern United States and Mexico, it has become one of the most regulated and managed rivers in the United States.

Arizona Department of Water Resources Roles in River Operations and Monitoring

Annual Operating Plan

Consults on development of the Annual Plan designating surplus, shortage or normal water supply conditions.

Long-Range Operating Criteria

Reviews criteria governing the operation of Colorado River reservoirs to determine whether they remain consistent with making continued adequate deliveries to Upper and Lower Basin water users.

Water Use Accounting

Monitors and records water uses in the Lower Basin as required in Article V of the Arizona v. California decree.

Colorado River System Modeling

Models impacts of management strategies, hydrologic conditions and water use demands throughout the Basin to determine the projected amount of Colorado River water available for use in Arizona.

Colorado River Contract Administration

Monitors Central Arizona Progect (CAP) and Colorado River entitlements and recommends allocations and transfers of these water supplies. ADWR is currently reviewing applications for the reallocation of up to 96,295 acre-feet of NIA priority CAP water supplies for municipal and industrial water use.