Mesa to get Colorado River water from Gila River tribe through new pipeline

Jul 26, 2023, 4:35 AM | Updated: 8:41 am

Stock image of a water pipeline. A new 10.5-mile pipeline is under construction in Mesa, and it wil...

(Pixabay Stock Photo)

(Pixabay Stock Photo)

PHOENIX — A new 10.5-mile pipeline is under construction in Mesa, and it will bring Colorado River water that will strengthen and diversify the city’s water portfolio.

The pipeline will allow for an agreement between Mesa and the Gila River Indian Community, where the city will give up some of its recycled water for some of the tribe’s Colorado River water.

It’s an 80% exchange, according to Mesa Water Director Chris Hassert.

“For every 10 gallons of recycled water we discharge to the Gila River Indian Community, we get 8 gallons of their Colorado River rights,” Hassert told KTAR News 92.3 FM 

Mesa will be able to deliver just under 30,000 acre-feet of water per year.

Hassert said the agreement is mutually beneficial and stems from the fact that they weren’t fully utilizing recycled water.

“We don’t really have an end use for the recycled water,” he said. “We do some groundwater recharge in north Mesa, but it’s of great use for agriculture and really is of value for the Gila River Indian Community.”

Another part of the equation is convenience.

“[The Gila River Indian Community] has a significant number of surface water rights on the Colorado River system,” Hassert said.

“But their agricultural fields are quite a distance from the CAP (Central Arizona Project) canal, whereas we have two water treatment plants that sit right on the CAP canal. The exchange makes sense for both sides.”

The Colorado River will then be treated by the city, where it will be utilized in central, east and south Mesa.

The plan is part of ongoing efforts by Mesa and other entities around the state to move away from groundwater as a primary source.

“Surface water [in this case] comes from the Colorado River Basin, primarily from snowmelt throughout the winter … it’s a renewable system in a sense,” Hassert explained.

“Groundwater is finite and is more of a precious resource. We don’t want to rely on it as a primary source, it’s considered in our eyes to be a backup source we’d like to preserve.”

The pipeline is expected to be completed by the end of 2025. It will include construction along stretches of Greenfield Road and Val Vista Drive.

Hassert said this project, and the agreement it’s built on, are a good example of working together to solve water problems.

“I think going forward that as cities and tribes and other entities find ways to work together,” he said. “We’re only going to make ourselves collectively stronger when it comes to water resources.”

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Mesa to get Colorado River water from Gila River tribe through new pipeline