Groundwater credits policy revised by Queen Creek Town Council

A policy on the application of groundwater credits to subdivisions enrolled in the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District has been revised by the Queen Creek Town Council.

The council voted unanimously March 20 to approve the item in a resolution. Council members Jake Hoffman and Julia Wheatley voted by phone.

Paul Gardner

As required under the Arizona Groundwater Management Act, all groundwater provided to developed properties after 1996 must be replenished. Generally, all subdivisions greater than five parcels are subject to this requirement, Paul Gardner, utilities director, said in a memo to the council.

The Queen Creek utility system manages the groundwater replenishment responsibility by requiring that all new subdivisions greater than five lots be enrolled in the district and most of the obligation is automatic based on the year the land was developed, he said.

“Any subdivision developed between 1996 and 2003, however, includes a groundwater credit that can be variably applied to each subdivision’s aggregate annual groundwater use. The actual credit is applied on a parcel-by-parcel basis within each subdivision based upon actual water use for the preceding year.

The intent of previous discussions with the Town Council has been to review the best way to apply this credit by maximizing both financial relief to these specific water customers and bridging the time it will take Queen Creek to establish a long-term water resource program,” Mr. Gardner said.

The policy revision applies groundwater credits to at least 100 percent of a subdivision’s groundwater use in any given year, he said.

In cases where a subdivision’s groundwater use exceeds the remaining groundwater credits available, 100 percent of the available groundwater credits would be applied, leaving the balance of the groundwater use the responsibility of the property owner, he said.

The town had established a five-year goal to reduce its reliance on CAGRD for groundwater replenishment obligations for groundwater provided by the town to its customers. It acquired a water resource in fiscal year 2018-19 including 175,000 acre-feet of groundwater extinguishment credits, according to the resolution.

“For this current fiscal year, the groundwater credit that was applied to each subdivision was the lessor of 100 percent or the amount of the credit to bridge an anticipated five-year transitional period. The proposed policy revision will accelerate the use of groundwater credits to 100 percent of the subdivision’s aggregate groundwater use in any given year,” Mr. Gardner said in the memo.

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