Queen Creek enters new agreement to get Colorado River water access

Jul 21, 2023, 4:35 AM

Town of Queen Creek sign...

Town of Queen Creek sign(Town of Queen Creek City Hall Facebook Page)

(Town of Queen Creek City Hall Facebook Page)

PHOENIX — The Town of Queen Creek has entered into a new agreement that will give it access to some water from the Colorado River, part of an ongoing effort to move away from reliance on groundwater.

“We were approached a number of years ago by a farming operation in Cibola, Arizona,” Paul Gardner, water resource director for Queen Creek explained. “[It was] to look at acquiring around 2,000 acre-feet [per year] in perpetuity off the Colorado River.”

After a long review process, the unusual agreement was approved.

“What we wanted to do was start getting off of mined groundwater as the main water supply, and diversify into other water supplies,” Gardner said. “This 2,000 acre-feet will supplement well over 6,000 homes.”

It’s just one agreement among many Queen Creek is working on to shift away from groundwater, as Arizona faces questions about its reliability in the future.

“Even though this is a very small portion of our water supply, over the next 100 years it will leave well over 200,000 acre-feet of groundwater we would have mined in the aquifer for future generations,” Gardner added.

Just a few years ago, almost 90% of Queen Creek’s water supply was groundwater. A variety of agreements like this one have cut that to between 40-50%.

More agreements to procure water from other sources are in the works, as well as efforts to increase wastewater treatment.

A big part of this effort is a plan to get water from the Harquahala Valley to Queen Creek through the Central Arizona Project canal, which could happen later this year.

If that were to happen, Gardner said it would further reduce Queen Creek’s reliance on groundwater.

“Over the next decade that would put us pretty close to 90% on renewable supplies,” he said, “and only 10% or less on pumping groundwater.”

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Queen Creek enters new agreement to get Colorado River water access