Letter to the editor: CAP (Central Arizona Project) thrives while Hopi economy is stagnant

To the editor:

Central Arizona Project’s (CAP) delivery of Colorado River water from 1986 through 2010 has generated in excess of $1 trillion ($1,090,000,000,000) of Arizona’s gross state product (GSP), according to a study recently commissioned by CAP with the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

In recent years, the existence of CAP has generated an economic benefit approaching $100 billion per year, accounting for at least one-third, and sometimes more, of the entire Arizona gross state product.

Simply put, Arizona would be entirely different if CAP’s 336-mile-long canal system was never constructed, commencing almost 40 years ago. By delivering at least 1.5 million acre-feet (almost 500 billion gallons) of Colorado River water every year, CAP has dramatically and positively changed the economic and environmental landscape of our state.

In order to calculate the economic impacts of CAP water deliveries, the researchers prepared a baseline scenario of Arizona’s annual economy as it has evolved with CAP water deliveries. A ‘no-CAP’ scenario was produced for the same time period with water supplies reduced by the amount delivered each year by CAP. The differences between the scenarios represent the annual and cumulative impacts of CAP water deliveries on Arizona GSP and employment.

Government, healthcare, retail, real estate and travel sectors would have lost more than 60 percent of these jobs had the CAP water supply been unavailable.

While the state economy continues to grow, Hopi economy is stagnant and will go down further when NGS closes and with it coal mining. According to Hopi Tribal officials, coal royalty fees pay for 85 percent of the general operating budget. No study has been done on the contribution of NGS and coal mining on Black Mesa to the economies of Navajo, Apache, Coconino Counties and the state of Arizona.

The Arizona desert flourishes because Hopi and Diné people made it possible. Without our coal and water the desert will be worthless.

It is for this reason that Black Mesa Trust, with the support of villages, is calling for economic and social justice. We will demand that the utility companies and their rate­ payers make a significant contribution to Hopi Trust Fund to be managed by Hopi villages.

We invite Diné grassroots organizations to join us.


Vernon Masayesva

Founder & Director, Black Mesa Trust


Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comment submissions may not exceed a 200 word limit, and in order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit excessive comment entries.

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.