Water conservation efforts avert shortage – for now

Horseshoe Bend near Page is a scenic point of the Colorado River, which is a major source of water for Arizona. (Photo courtesy of Central Arizona Project)

By all accounts, 2017 has been a good water year, but experts say that the reduced risk of a water shortage in 2018 doesn’t change the long-term conservation decisions that have to be made.

Water levels at Lake Mead act as a barometer for the Colorado River. When Lake Mead gets too low, a shortage is declared and water reductions start going into effect – reductions that impact Arizona water users first.


No end near after 4 decades of water rights litigation

The Colorado River is a major source of water for Arizona. The management of its supply involves numerous stakeholders and agencies.

After 44 years, the adjudication of water rights in Arizona is still far from being resolved, and water policy experts say that resolving these competing claims is essential to providing certainty about water rights.

Two general stream adjudications are currently underway that affect the most populous areas of the state: the Gila River Adjudication in the Maricopa County Superior Court and the Little Colorado River Adjudication in the Apache County Superior Court.  The proceedings’ goal is to establish the extent and priority of all water rights for both river systems.


From toilet to tap, brew challenge shows safe reuse of water

Entries at the AZ Pure Water Brew contest ranged widely from pilsner to stout to IPA, but they all shared a base of reclaimed wastewater. (Photo by Jenna Miller/Arizona Capitol Times)

The knowledge that water used in new local craft beers had been flushed down toilets, sinks and showers not long ago didn’t faze attendees at the AZ Pure Water Brew Challenge sampling event, who sniffed and sipped away.

The event promoted use of reclaimed wastewater, which some Arizona residents could soon be drinking directly from their taps due to a proposed change in regulations by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.


ADEQ at odds with advisory panel over septic system regulations

(Stock photo/Itman47)

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality disagrees with its own advisory committee, which says current septic system regulations need a serious update to ensure protection of groundwater.

Many homeowners in suburbs and rural areas don’t have city sewage services and instead utilize onsite wastewater systems, often called septic systems, to safely return household waste to the ground.


Colonias on the border struggle with decades-old water issues

"Before, all of this used to be a dump. If there was sewage and potable water, it would be all right," Araceli Silva said. Her sons drilled and installed a well in the backyard of her home in Wall Lane, near Yuma.

Nestor Alaniz didn’t get a permit to build a well in his mother’s backyard, and he didn’t get it inspected.

In fact, he didn’t even know how to dig a well. He learned by watching tutorials on YouTube while his brother, a construction worker, helped him drill the 25-foot-deep hole.

They built the well after the old one dried up for the fourth time. Their mother, who lives in a “colonia” – an unincorporated community – of about 400 residents outside of Yuma, had gone without water to her home for a year.


In the end, Arizona must speak with one voice

Tom Buschatzke

At this time a year ago, the state of California was struggling with one of the worst periods of extended drought in its history. Six months later, “atmospheric rivers” of rain and snow were buffeting the West Coast, turning a devastating dry spell for the entire state of California into a motherlode of moisture.

As a result, the terrible California drought officially was done. Crisis averted.


Let’s welcome robust, uncomfortable, contentious discussion

Kathryn Sorensen

The state of Arizona is experiencing a paradigm shift. We spent the last 30 years taking as much water off the Colorado River as possible to keep it away from California. We wisely stored that water underground in our aquifers as a hedge against future shortage on the Colorado River.

Now, the waters of the Colorado River are not only fully subscribed each year, but over-allocated compared to the true yield of the river.


CAP – Ready to meet today’s water challenges

Central Arizona Project photo by Philip A. Fortnam

For as long as anyone can remember, Arizona’s water issues have been tackled in a non-political manner, with sober-minded participants debating genuine policy disagreements until a consensus was reached to the benefit of Arizona.

With persistent drought conditions in the Western United States threatening our state’s Colorado River water entitlement, once again Arizona’s water leaders are called to this proven formula of fact-based analysis and thorough deliberation among the many vested interests engaged in water policy in Arizona.


Arizona water policy requires continued vision and leadership

Dave Roberts

After one of the more productive runoff winters in years, we get lots of questions about Arizona’s water supply. Was this just a brief respite from 20-plus years of drought, or are we finally at the end of the latest 20- or 30-year dry cycle and ready to start the next wetter period?

We don’t know the answers to those questions yet.



ABWC represents members’ needs in complex water environment

Chris Udall

The Agribusiness & Water Council of Arizona (ABWC), formerly known as the Agri-Business Council of Arizona (ABC), was established in 1978 to represent the legislative interests of agribusiness and water users, contributing to the shaping of Arizona’s 1980 Ground Water Management Act.

The council continues to assist in representing agricultural water resources and in fashioning sound, sustainable water policy for our membership both at the state and national levels.


‘LOCK’ in on addressing future water challenges

David Iwanski © Jess Legaspi // www.jesslegaspi.com //jess@jesslegaspi.com

It has been 37 years since Arizona passed and implemented the Arizona Groundwater Management Act. It was a historic piece of legislation and one that has provided an enduring blueprint for water management in our state.

Today, we are at the crossroads regarding additional looming challenges including drought, especially drought on the Colorado River; where our next “buckets” of water will come from; and who will be the next generation of champions who provide the vision and courage to make extremely tough decisions about Arizona’s water future.


Preserving Arizona’s remaining rivers, streams, springs

Mary Walker

Arizona water is at a crossroads and a number of powerful interests have come together to discuss what to do about it. The governor has convened myriad meetings, some of which are by invitation only and not open to the public, to discuss the future of Arizona’s water policies and potential changes to Arizona water law.

For those of us that do not follow the intricacies of water policy, we are left asking basic questions, such as how to deal with drought and climate change?


Unifying Colorado River policy to avoid water shortage

Warren Tenney

Collaboration is often touted as key to Arizona’s successes in water management, and it is. We just forget how messy, cantankerous, and difficult collaborating can be. This certainly was the case with Arizona’s groundbreaking 1980 Groundwater Management Act.

We are seeing it again this summer as the state wrestles with Colorado River and groundwater issues in a stakeholder process led by Gov. Doug Ducey.



Let’s protect the Colorado River, and the lives that depend on it

Dennis Patch

The Colorado River Indian Tribes are seeking to protect the life of the river and potentially the lives that depend on it. As river people, we have seen first-hand the changes and diminishing strength of the once mighty Colorado River.

Any leasing of our water beyond our borders, as other tribes have done, is complex and challenging. Yet, there could be many opportunities for mutual gains for water users in the state of Arizona and economic gains for our people.


It’s simple, really: Arizona’s economy is tied to water

(ALL RIGHTS) – Arizona TNC State Director, Pat Graham. Photo credit: © Mark Skalny

Many of us take our water supply for granted, yet as water becomes scarcer it is more important than ever to be clear who speaks for the diverse interests and people of Arizona in negotiations with the federal government, Mexico and other states.

Efforts are moving forward to avert a potential crisis for Arizona due to the declining reservoir levels on the Colorado River – these are very important to manage water scarcity in the short term.