Good Intentions, Unintended Consequences: The Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District

The 1980 Arizona Groundwater Management Act is widely celebrated as a progressive piece of legislation that attempted to halt excessive groundwater pumping. A key component of the Act was its requirement that developers demonstrate an “assured water supply” (“AWS”) before receiving permission to build. In the early 1990s, the legislature created an optional method for securing AWS compliance: membership in the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (“CAGRD”). This option has turned out to be far more attractive than was originally envisioned. This paper explores the good intentions but unintended consequences brought about by the CAGRD option. This article also offers a set of options that would reform how CAGRD operates.