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Arizona water blueprint aids informed water planning

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Water is Arizona’s most precious natural resource. Yet, despite its importance, few Arizonans actually understand where their water is sourced.

If someone asked you to identify Arizona’s three major water sources, could you name them? Could you explain why tens of thousands of Arizonans don’t have certainty about their long-term water supplies?

If you can’t answer these questions, don’t feel bad. Most people can’t.

Sarah Porter

Sarah Porter

But most people do want to know more about water management in Arizona. A 2019 ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy poll found that 64% of Arizonans are interested in learning more about water management in the state. And not only laypersons, we hear often from elected officials and other policymakers around the state that accessing information about water resources is not easy.

This is exactly why the ASU Kyl Center for Water Policy created the just-launched Arizona Water Blueprint: To fill the gap between what people know about water in Arizona and what they want to know. Using the Arizona Water Blueprint website, the average Arizonan – not just people who already have an understanding of Arizona’s water issues – would be able to answer the water questions we just posed, and many more, with just a few clicks.

The Arizona Water Blueprint site has two main components.

There’s an interactive map where people can freely explore Arizona’s water landscape. It is rich with data about the state’s water resources and infrastructure, incorporating more than 40 data layers such as irrigation districts, water withdrawal wells, and Active Management Areas.

There are also Story Maps, which provide guided learning experiences on discrete water topics, such as augmentation concepts – projects that aim to enlarge water supplies in the state.

We’re going to continue updating both of these components with the latest and most relevant information about water in Arizona. We hope they will help individuals better understand Arizona’s water systems and aid our communities in planning for a more resilient water future.

Susan Craig

Susan Craig

The blueprint in meant to encourage holistic approaches to water planning and policymaking. For more than a year, Kyl Center staff held design workshops with over 200 experts in water, land use, environmental conservation and economic development. Input from these experts helped the Kyl Center create the Arizona Water Blueprint.

People who are invested in ensuring good water stewardship across Arizona came together to tell us what tools they need to help plan Arizona’s water future. What we’ve done is to pull that all together in one place.

Oh, and for the record: the Colorado River, groundwater and in-state rivers are our three major water sources and lawsuits related to the state’s two largest watersheds, which have been ongoing since the mid-1970s and involve about 46,000 parties, are the reason many water users don’t have certainty about their water supplies.

Check out the Arizona Water Blueprint site at azwaterblueprint.asu.edu.

Sarah Porter is director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy, which is part of ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy. Susan Craig is a Kyl Center water policy analyst. Reach them at KylCenter@asu.edu.

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