The Town of Cave Creek held a special 2-hour Water Forum for our community on September 13 at Town Hall. The Forum was held because the main source of surface water supplies for both Cave Creek and Desert Hills is from the Colorado River, which is in a prolonged drought. Cave Creek’s allocation of Colorado River water is delivered to us by Central Arizona Project (CAP). In August, the United States Secretary of the Interior declared the first-ever Tier One shortage on the River, which has resulted in a substantial cut to Arizona’s water allocations. This year, Arizona’s agricultural users will feel the impact. If a Tier 2 shortage is declared in 2023, as currently projected, Arizona cities, towns, industries, and Indian tribes will be affected.
Council Member Kathryn Royer coordinated the event with Town staff featuring subject matter experts from the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR), CAP, and Cave Creek. ADWR’s Kristin Johnson covered the state’s role in Colorado River management, $1 billion dollars of legislative support for infrastructure improvements, impacts of the drought on groundwater supplies, and forecasts for elevations in Lakes Mead and Powell. CAP Board Secretary Alexandra Arboleda, and Ken Seasholes, CAP’s Manager of Resource Planning and Analysis, spoke on Colorado River shortage impacts to CAP water supplies, water banking, conservation, innovation and diversification, and its 2023 water supply outlook. The program concluded with Cave Creek Utilities Director Shawn Kreuzwiesner and external legal water advisor Michelle Van Quathem discussing Cave Creek’s water resources, shortage and drought planning, and conservation efforts to protect our decreasing water supplies from the Colorado. Questions and answers were included as part of each segment.