Marana Water News: Rights, Permits, and Reports - Oh My!

Map courtesy of Arizona Department of Water Resources

Map courtesy of Arizona Department of Water Resources

The Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) is the state agency authorized to enforce the 1980 Groundwater Management Act, the prime legislation governing water rights and groundwater pumping requirements in Arizona. This landmark legislation put guidelines in place for conserving and protecting groundwater. It created the ADWR, ensured the completion of the Central Arizona Project, and established Active Management Areas (AMAs) throughout the state. Approximately 80% of the state's population live within one of these AMAs. The map to the right shows the AMAs across the state. Marana is in the Tucson AMA, which is approximately, 3,800 sq. miles, and collectively had over 300,000 acre feet of annual use. Within an AMA, water rights and water withdrawals are monitored, new wells are tracked, and conservation programs are established for water users. The annual report is one of the various methods ADWR uses to track this information. This information is used by ADWR to monitor local, regional and state-wide historical trends and to plan for the future. Water right holders, like Marana Water, must provide an annual report for each right and permit, even if no water is used for that year.

For more information on ADWR click here.

Marana Water holds several water rights and permits that require periodic measurement and monitoring of water withdrawal and use. As a municipal provider with a designation of assured water supply in the Tucson AMA, Marana Water has particular reporting requirements. Each year, the department prepares and submits information about its available water supplies and how they are or will be used to meet current, committed and projected future customer demand.

Annual reports are due March 31 of every year for the previous year. The annual report for 2015 provided to ADWR in March 2016, shows that Marana Water is properly using the water rights to which it is entitled, and how the department is meeting customer demand while implementing best practices for conservation.

There are many pieces of information included in the annual report. This information comes from monthly reports Marana Water staff prepare throughout the year. Water meter readings, well site measurements, and other pieces of data are used to prepare the information contained in the annual report. Most of the information is related to water use in acre-feet. An acre foot of water would cover an entire football field with one foot of water, or approximately 326,000 gallons. The pie chart above breaks down the different types of water used to meet demand in 2015, which is an important piece of data included in the annual report. Other types of information reported include:

  • volumes of Central Arizona Project (CAP) water delivered to Marana
  • volume of water pumped from each well
  • volume of water delivered to each customer class (i.e. irrigation, residential, commercial)
  • water levels from wells

The well information helps to assess the health of the aquifer, which is the major water source for Marana Water. In general, water levels in Marana Water wells have been rising due to decreased use of mined groundwater and increased use of renewable supplies, like CAP water and effluent, in the region.

This graph highlights the reduction in the lost and unaccounted for water percentage since 2011.

This graph highlights the reduction in the lost and unaccounted for water percentage since 2011.

One of the main pieces of information highlighted in the annual report is the Lost and Unaccounted for Water. This is the difference in the volume of water that is pumped and treated and the water delivered to customers. ADWR has a maximum limit of 10% lost and unaccounted for water. This year, Marana Water was at 6.4%, well below that threshold. There are two types of water losses, apparent and real losses. Apparent water losses can be inaccurate meter readings or potential theft of water. Real losses can come from unanticipated leaks in the system infrastructure from main breaks, distribution or service line breaks, or leaking reservoirs or values. Additionally, some real losses can be expected from pipes that are under pressure. The chart above shows the historic loss percentage, and shows that Marana Water has worked hard to get that value as low as possible.

The combination of all of this information provides a picture of Marana Water's dedication to protecting this precious resource. Tracking where the water comes from, and reducing our reliance on mined groundwater will allow the Town to continue to grow in a sustainable way.

Annual reports documents are available for view at the ADWR website, and upon request to Marana Water at