/ Modified oct 2, 2023 8:26 p.m.

Douglas AMA management goal under review, workshops ahead for management plan

ADWR officals say that those with non-exempt wells must apply for a grandfathered right by March 1 in order to continue legally withdrawing groundwater from the basin

Mast and Griffin 1 ADWR Director of Active Management Areas Natalie Mast (right) and Arizona State Representative Gail Griffin (R-19, left) talk prior to ADWR's meeting in Douglas Thursday. September 28, 2023. Photo by Summer Hom, AZPM News.

The management goal for the Douglas Active Management Area (AMA) has been put back under review by the Arizona Department of Water Resources after multiple members of the public and Arizona’s Attorney General raised concerns about its language.

The prior criticism of Arizona Department of Water Resources’ first proposed management goal surrounded the use of the word “attempt.” Active Management Area Director Natalie Mast told AZPM since then, that management goal has been placed under review.

“We expect to be issuing a decision on that in the next couple of weeks,” said Mast.

According to ADWR, the current draft management goal for the Douglas AMA is "to support the general economy and welfare of water users in the basin by attempting to reduce the rate of aquifer depletion by 2035 and every 10 years thereafter."

In the meantime, ADWR further briefed the community about some critical deadlines for grandfathering their wells within the basin and what to expect moving forward towards adopting the management plan for the Douglas AMA.

During the meeting last Thursday, Mast reminded those in attendance who have what are called non-exempt wells — those are wells that have max pump capacity of more than 35 gallons of groundwater per-minute — need to file an application for grandfathered rights.

“If you are using water from a non-exempt well, if you are irrigating two or more acres of land, if you are using more than 10-acre-feet for a non-irrigation use, you must apply for a grandfathered right in order to continue legally using groundwater in the Active Management Area,” Mast said.

Mast added there is a fee of $75 per application to grandfather a well and applicants must file their application by March 1 of 2024. ADWR has up until two years after the AMA is established to create the first management plan for that AMA. That deadline is December of 2024.

Next, ADWR plans to have a series of public workshops — which will cover requirements for agricultural, industrial and municipal water users in the AMA — starting in October. What follows is a series of public meetings to discuss water recharge, conservation and regulatory language for the management plan.

Once a five-member Groundwater Users Advisory Council (GUAC) is appointed to represent groundwater users in the Douglas AMA, they will met with ADWR and will review the draft management plan. Each member of the GUAC is appointed by the Governor according to ADWR's website.

By posting comments, you agree to our
AZPM encourages comments, but comments that contain profanity, unrelated information, threats, libel, defamatory statements, obscenities, pornography or that violate the law are not allowed. Comments that promote commercial products or services are not allowed. Comments in violation of this policy will be removed. Continued posting of comments that violate this policy will result in the commenter being banned from the site.

By submitting your comments, you hereby give AZPM the right to post your comments and potentially use them in any other form of media operated by this institution.
AZPM is a service of the University of Arizona and our broadcast stations are licensed to the Arizona Board of Regents who hold the trademarks for Arizona Public Media and AZPM. We respectfully acknowledge the University of Arizona is on the land and territories of Indigenous peoples.
The University of Arizona