What is the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (CAGRD) and why is it important?
- The 1980 Arizona Groundwater Management Act (AGMA) requires replenishment of all groundwater provided to developed properties after 1996. Generally, all subdivisions with more than five parcels are subject to this requirement; most commercial properties, unless included within a larger subdivision, are excluded from this requirement.
- The Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (CAGRD) was formed to serve as a mechanism to assist developments in meeting the requirements of the AGMA by conducting replenishment on behalf of the water provider by using renewable (typically surface water) supplies. The CAGRD allows water providers like the Town of Queen Creek to demonstrate an assured water supply, as required by the AGMA, which enables the Town to serve our water customers while safeguarding Arizona’s water future.
Where do the credits come from?
- CAGRD credits were established when development initiated and converted from an agricultural to residential use (with homes). Since homes use less water than agriculture, this conversion results in an allocation of a fixed number of credits – depending on the size and year in which the subdivision was developed. Each year, these credits can be applied to offset groundwater use under different rules and/or regulations.
- Under the current system, credits are calculated and allocated based on when the development enrolled with CAGRD:
- If developed prior to 1996, there is no groundwater replenishment requirement – these properties are exempt from groundwater replenishment requirements and in effect receive a 100% credit
- If developed between 1996 and 2003, the provider (the Town of Queen Creek) determines how much and how fast credits are applied
- If developed after 2003, the credits are only applied at a fixed rate of 33%
How is CAGRD paid?
- Town of Queen Creek water customers are required to pay an assessment based on water usage. Currently, the Town reports water usage information to CAGRD annually for the calculation of each assessment. The assessment is included as part of the resident’s annual property tax bill from Maricopa or Pinal County (based on county of residence). It is not a component of the Town’s monthly water bill. The county then disburses the monies collected to CAGRD.
- It is important to note that since the CAGRD assessment is based on previous usage, it is paid in arrears – this year’s property tax bill will include an assessment for last year’s water usage (for new property owners, the usage would be based on the previous property owner’s water usage).
- Every parcel in CAGRD also pays an annual fixed membership fee, regardless of the amount of water consumed. The Town of Queen Creek does not determine CAGRD rates or membership fees, which have continued to significantly increase over time.
What’s the Town’s long-term solution for renewable water?
Queen Creek is working to implement a long-term water resource program. The main goal is to reduce the system’s reliance on CAGRD and build a local and diverse portfolio of renewable water resources. Additionally, the long-term strategy seeks to provide an assured water supply at a lower total cost that is more stable, and sustainable, than the costs assessed by CAGRD. Further, by utilizing existing water rates to acquire lower-cost water resources, the Town is moving from a higher annual assessment on your property tax bill to a lower monthly cost that is built into the current utility rates and charges – a benefit to all utility customers.
Over the past two years, Town Council has taken several significant steps toward achieving Queen Creek’s long-term strategy:
- Resolution 1204-18 applied available groundwater credits to pre-2004 CAGRD subdivisions over a five-year period, saving customers approximately $700,000 in CAGRD assessments
- Acquisition of 175,000 acre feet (AF) of GWECs
- Resolution 1256-19 accelerates the use of CAGRD credits for pre-2004 CAGRD subdivisions and backfilling used credits with GWECs, either eliminating or greatly reducing CAGRD responsibility. By 2021, all pre-2004 CAGRD subdivisions and included properties will have a zero CAGRD assessment.
CAGRD policy change
For detailed information about how resolution 1256-19 impacts eligible customers, including an interactive map, click here.
CAGRD rates & calculator for estimated charges
Every parcel in CAGRD pays an annual membership. The Town of Queen Creek does not determine CAGRD rates or membership dues. To view current CAGRD rates, visit their website.
Download the calculator to estimate your 2019 CAGRD charges.