Underground Storage and Recovery: A Powerful Tool for the Management of the Limited Water Resources of the Phoenix Metropolitan Area

by Mario Lluria,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: WRPMD'99: Preparing for the 21st Century


(No paper) The availability of imported Colorado River water to the Phoenix area in 1986 prompted the need for storage of the unused portion of each municipality's contracted allocation. No surface storage was available for this purpose and their construction would be a prolonged and costly process. The only timely and cost-effective alternative would be to develop underground storage projects with sufficient capacity to accept the surplus water being delivered from the Colorado river by the recently completed Central Arizona (CAP) Aquduct. A joint venture was created between the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association (AMWUA), representing all the municipalities of the Salt River Valley, and the Salt River Project (SRP), the largest purveyor of water for the nation's fastest growing metropolitan area. SRP was given the lead to plan, design, permit, construct and operate a large water-spreading groundwater recharge facility that would accommodate the unused CAP water volumes for long term storage. A very favorable site, with excellent geohydrologic characteristics, no environmental restrictions and with proximal accessibility to water delivery systems for CAP and SRP water was selected. This site is located in the channel of the Salt River within the lands of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. After a slow process of permitting and land negotiations, the underground storage facility was constructed and commenced its operation in May of 1994. Water is delivered by gravity from the SRP canal system to four basins occupying 175 acres that have an infiltration rate that exceeds 2.5 feet/day. The Granite Reef Underground Storage site, which did not include a pilot phase, allows a recharge rate in excess of 10,000 acre-feet/month. The successful operations of GRUSP as an integral part of the water resources management system of the Phoenix Metropolitan area from 1994 to 1998 has prompted plans for its expansion.

Subject Headings: Water storage | Underground storage | Water resources | Municipal water | Water management | Salt water | Rivers and streams | Arizona | United States | Phoenix | Colorado River

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