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Notice

Central Arizona Project, Arizona; Water Allocations

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Office of the Secretary, Interior.

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ACTION:

Notice of proposed modification to the Secretary of the Interior's record of decision

SUMMARY:

The Department proposes to modify the 1983 Central Arizona Project (CAP) Water Allocation Decision to delete the mandatory effluent pooling provision. The Department now views that provision as an impediment to effluent exchanges and effective water management in central Arizona.

If the proposed decision is implemented, the Department would amend water service subcontracts for the cities of Chandler and Mesa to remove the mandatory effluent pooling provision. The mandatory effluent pooling provision would be deleted from other M&I water service subcontracts upon request.

DATES:

All comments and material relevant to this proposed decision that are received by July 5, 2002 will be considered.

ADDRESSES:

Send written comments concerning the proposed decision to Paul Nelson, Bureau of Reclamation, PO Box 81169, Phoenix, Arizona, 85069-1169.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Paul Nelson at (602) 216-3878.

Proposed Decision: The following sentence is proposed for deletion from the 1983 CAP Water Allocation Decision (see page 12447 of the 1983 CAP Water Allocation Decision): “This allocation is subject to the adoption of a pooling concept whereby all M&I allottees share in the benefits of effluent exchanges.”

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Previous Notices Related to CAP Water

II. Background

III. Rational for Proposed Decision

IV. Compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA)

I. Previous Notices Related to CAP Water

Previous notices related to CAP water were published in the Federal Register (FR) at 37 FR 28082, December 20, 1972; 40 FR 17297, April 18, 1975; 41 FR 45883, October 18, 1976; 45 FR 52938, August 8, 1980; 45 FR 81265, December 10, 1980; 48 FR 12446, March 24, 1983; 56 FR 29704, June 28, 1991; 57 FR 4470, February 5, 1992; and 57 FR 48388, October 23, 1992. These notices and decisions were made pursuant to the authority vested in the Secretary by the Reclamation Act of 1902 as amended and supplemented (32 Stat. 388, 43 U.S.C. 391), the Boulder Canyon Project Act of December 21, 1928 (45 Stat. 1057), the Colorado River Basin Project Act of September 30, 1968 (82 Stat. 885, 43 U.S.C. 1501) and in recognition of the Secretary's trust responsibility to Indian tribes.

II. Background

Following the 1983 CAP Water Allocation Decision, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD), and each of the non-Indian CAP water allottees desiring CAP water entered into three-party water service subcontracts providing for the delivery of CAP water. In order to ensure implementation of the mandatory effluent pooling provision, M&I water service subcontractors who choose to circumvent the effluent pooling provision and directly exchange their effluent with Indian tribes are subject to a reduction in their entitlement to CAP water under their subcontracts by the amount of CAP water received from the effluent exchange.

The Department indicated in the 1983 CAP Water Allocation Decision that CAP M&I water allocations could be made more firm by execution of feasible non-potable effluent exchanges with Indian tribes. The 1983 CAP Water Allocation Decision also implemented a pooling provision whereby all M&I water service subcontractors share in the benefits of effluent exchanges. In a time of shortage of CAP water under the effluent pooling provision, the additional CAP water made available as a result of any effluent exchanges with Indian tribes would be shared by all M&I subcontractors, thereby reducing the amount of shortage for each subcontractor. The pooling provision was included in the CAP M&I water service subcontracts.

The 1983 CAP Water Allocation Decision also provided that the Department could require Indian tribes located in close proximity to metropolitan areas to take delivery of effluent in lieu of CAP water. This requirement was eliminated by a Secretarial decision published in the Federal Register on October 23, 1992, so that any effluent exchanges involving Indian tribes would occur on a voluntary basis.

The major cities in Maricopa County, which are the sources of most of the exchangeable effluent, prefer to exchange effluent on their own, incur all related treatment and transportation expenses, and receive any benefits from the exchange.

III. Rationale for Proposed Decision

The Department favors elimination of the mandatory effluent pooling provision from the 1983 CAP Water Allocation Decision for the following reasons:

(1) In response to public comments submitted by the City of Phoenix in 1992 concerning the mandatory effluent pooling provision, the Department committed to re-evaluate this provision at a later date after consultation with the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) (see 57 FR 48389). In pertinent part, the City of Phoenix stated “* * * The City of Phoenix agrees with the reasons for deleting the mandatory substitute water provision from the Indian CAP Contracts and believes that it is equally important to remove the provision from CAP M&I subcontracts that would penalize a subcontractor for entering into a direct effluent exchange with an Indian Community for CAP water.” The Department acknowledged the City of Phoenix's concerns that the provisions of the effluent exchange article in the CAP M&I water service subcontracts may no longer be critical to the management of water supplies in central Arizona.

(2) The mandatory effluent pooling provision removes any incentive for a municipality to exchange effluent with an Indian tribe. The Department believes that effluent producing entities, Indian Tribes, the State of Arizona, and other local organizations should be free to pursue local water management decisions that are in the best interest of the local economies, and that they should not be constrained in such water management decisions by the mandatory effluent pooling provision.

(3) ADWR now supports removing the mandatory effluent pooling provision from the 1983 CAP Water Allocation Decision and the CAP M&I water service subcontracts.

(4) CAWCD, as a party to the CAP M&I water service subcontracts, does not object to deletion of the mandatory effluent pooling provision from the subcontracts.

(5) The Department is aware of two pending effluent exchange agreements that require Departmental approval. The cities of Chandler and Mesa each have a proposed effluent exchange agreement with the GRIC. The benefits resulting from the proposed exchanges to the cities and GRIC will not occur unless and until the mandatory effluent provision is removed from the Cities' CAP water service subcontracts.

IV. Compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA)

The Department has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) on the impact of modifying the 1983 CAP Water Allocation Decision to delete the Start Printed Page 38516mandatory effluent pooling provision. The draft EA and notice of availability are being published and disseminated to CAP water contractors and subcontractors and other interested parties concurrent with publication of this notice.

Our practice is to make comments, including names and home addresses of respondents, available for public review. Individual respondents may request that we withhold their home address from public disclosure, which we will honor to the extent allowable by law. There also may be circumstances in which we would withhold a respondent's identity from public disclosure, as allowable by law. If you wish us to withhold your name and/or address, you must state this prominently at the beginning of your comment. We will make all submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, available for public disclosure in their entirety.

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Dated: May 24, 2002.

Gale A. Norton,

Secretary of the Interior.

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[FR Doc. 02-13888 Filed 6-3-02; 8:45 am]

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