Commission Moves to Create Water Task Force
The Commission approved the creation of a Water Task Force consisting of various utility companies and stakeholders to examine and make recommendations on future water-related decisions within the purview of the Corporation Commission.
The Water Task Force will consist of the following members, serving as members of various subcommittees: Arizona Public Service Company, Arizona Water Company, Central States Water Resources, EPCOR, Global Water Resources, Inc., Greenstone, JW Water/Pivotal, Liberty Utilities, Lincus, Melodee Loyer, NextEra Water, the Residential Utility Consumer Office, Southwestern Utility Management, Tucson Electric Power Company, UNS Electric, Inc., the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority, the Water Utilities Association of Arizona, and Commission Staff. Additional parties will be contacted directly to determine if they wish to participate, including Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative Association, Tierra Water Management, and a minimum of two non-profit/non-governmental organizations with expertise in water conservation, as part of an amendment from Commissioner Sandra D. Kennedy.
The Water Task Force will have the following subcommittees: Water Use, to include issues of water loss, supply, conservation, and long-term planning; Infrastructure, to include the issues of long-term planning, and resilient and reliable infrastructure; Water-Energy Nexus; and, Water Policies, to recommend specific updates to the Commission’s water policies approved in Decision Nos. 75626, 75743, and 78384 within the context of Demand-Side Management, rate design, and regulatory climate.
Background: This August, federal authorities are expected to declare a shortage on Lake Mead. Due to extended drought conditions and over allocation of water rights, water levels in Lake Mead have been at their lowest levels since the reservoir was initially filled in 1935. A formal declaration will require water users in Arizona that rely on water from the Colorado River to curtail their usage and conserve.
The Arizona Corporation Commission, the state public utility regulators voted unanimously on July 14, 2021 to adopt two proposals from Arizona Corporation Commission Chairwoman Lea Márquez Peterson. The policies will help the Commission prepare for a shortage declaration on the Colorado River and a future in which drought conditions, aging infrastructure, and water conservation will be unavoidable considerations in the ratemaking process for regulated water providers.
The first proposal institutes an annual Water Preparedness Meeting, which will keep the Commission informed of immediate water scarcity issues and infrastructure needs. The second proposal establishes a Water Task Force, composed of key stakeholders, which will evaluate an array of policy options and best practices and report back to the Commission with recommendations tailored for Arizona and its needs.