Department of the Interior

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Office of the Secretary
August 22, 2006
Kip White, 202-513-0684
or Shane Wolfe, 202-208-6415
Secretary Kempthorne Approves Master Agreement for Arizona Water Settlements Act

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today approved the Master Agreement for the Arizona Water Settlements Act, paving the way for reallocating water from the Central Arizona Project (CAP) between Indian and non-Indian user groups.

“The Arizona Water Settlements Act provided a comprehensive resolution to water use issues in Arizona,” Secretary Kempthorne said. “And this Master Agreement will enable us to carry out key terms of settlements with Native American communities in the region. We are entering the final phase of this historic collaborative process.”

Reallocating water from CAP, a federal system that delivers Colorado River water to the state, is authorized under the Arizona Water Settlements Act. The law ended a decade of negotiations among representatives of the federal government, the states of Arizona and New Mexico, local governments, the Gila River Indian Community, the Tohono O'odham Nation and other Native American groups. The Act was shepherded through Congress by Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl and signed into law by President Bush on Dec. 10, 2004.

The Master Agreement – negotiated among the Interior Department, the Arizona Department of Water Resources and the Central Arizona Water Conservation District -- provides the mechanism through which non-Indian agricultural groups and agencies in Arizona with contracts for CAP water can relinquish that water.

This action will make approximately 300,000 acre-feet of CAP water available annually. About 200,000 acre-feet of this water will be used for Indian water rights settlements in the state. The remainder will be retained by the Arizona Department of Water Resources for future use by non-Indian municipal and industrial entities in Arizona. The Master Agreement also serves as the trust contract under which the Arizona Department of Water Resources will hold the water for these entities.

The Interior Department will now be able to publish a final decision re-allocating CAP water among Indian and non-Indian water user groups in Arizona. The initial CAP water allocations were made in March 1983; these were modified in February 1992. Today’s action modifies the 1983 decision and rescinds the 1992 decision.

The final decision:

  • designates permanent supplies of CAP water for Indian uses, as well as for non-Indian municipal and industrial uses or non-Indian agricultural use;
  • reallocates CAP water that was classified for municipal and industrial use, but never contracted, to 20 specific municipal entities in Arizona; and,
  • reallocates CAP water that non-Indian agricultural entities either relinquished or did not contract to various Arizona Tribes and the Arizona Department of Water Resources for future municipal and industrial use.

The Master Agreement will now be sent to the Arizona Department of Water Resources and the Central Arizona Water Conservation District for signature.