Your Glass of CAP Water May Get More Expensive
An energy-water collision seems imminent on the Colorado Plateau, with water supplies dwindling and energy costs set to rise, reports Circle of Blue. Currently, the Central Arizona Project (CAP) diverts water from the Colorado River to provide Arizona with its river water allotment. The CAP starts on the Colorado River at Lake Havasu and carries water 336 miles southeast into Phoenix and Tucson using pumps powered by energy from the Navajo Generating Station (NGS). This coal-based energy lifts CAP water almost 3,000 feet in elevation along its journey to the arid Arizona interior. Since the cost of energy has been low over the last several decades, water has remained cheap for Arizona customers. But new EPA emissions regulations, which are set to be enacted in 2012, as well as new limitations on air pollution near national parks, mean that the price of NGS energy could rise substantially in coming years, raising the price of Arizona’s water.
Circle of Blue quotes the current manager of the CAP speculating on closure of the plant by 2019. The plant’s future seems uncertain, as the owners—a consortium of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and five western power companies— have not publicly expressed whether they will adopt expensive new retrofits that will be required under new emissions regulations. The plant provides a sizable income for the Navajo and Hopi tribes, but recent grassroots efforts have sought to shut the plant down due to the health and environmental effects of coal mining and emissions.