Water is a precious resource everywhere, and has shaped much of Arizona's past and present. It will continue to figure significantly in Arizona's future.
In December 2004, President Bush signed the Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA) into law. The signing of the Act is a major milestone in Arizona's history and one that could ultimately prove as important to the state's future as authorization of the Central Arizona Project (CAP).
Title I of the legislation provides adjustments to the allocations of Central Arizona Project (CAP) water and settles litigation between the United States and the Central Arizona Water Conservancy District regarding repayment of the CAP. Title II authorized the Gila River Indian Community Water Rights Settlement and Title III amended and reauthorized the Southern Arizona Water Rights Settlement Act of 1982. The AWSA represents a significant accomplishment and settles numerous water rights issues in Arizona. The settlements provide funding that will enable the Gila River Indian Community and Tohono O'odham Nation to rehabilitate and expand water infrastructure to meet the needs of their reservations. The settlement also provides funds to pay the fixed operation and maintenance charges associated with delivery of CAP water to Arizona Indian tribes. The Act allows tribes to make use of water rights that previously existed only on paper. In addition, it brings long-sought certainty to cities and communities as they plan their growth and development and is a major component of a long-term water plan for Arizona.