Arizonans from across the state gathered for the 107th Arizona Town Hall, with the theme "Keeping Arizona's Water Glass Full," focused on water and what we need to do to plan for our future. About 170 people with a variety of backgrounds — from water experts to tribal members, business leaders and elected officials to citizens with no ties to the issue other than consumption — spent three days participating in a dynamic process of reaching consensus on meaningful solutions to the water challenges facing our state.

Water is a serious problem for many western states. Arizona continues to have a significant focus on water management, including getting Congress to approve the Central Arizona Project in 1968, the State Legislature adopting the Groundwater Management Act in 1980 and creating the Arizona Department of Water Resources, the agency that plans for and regulates statewide water use.

However, consensus among many experts shared in the robust background report we all receive as participants is that, without continued, significant action, Arizona may face a gap between water demand and supply as early as in the next 25 years. 

Arizona Town Hall participants come ready with the background report, prepared by Arizona’s three universities, and meet as a full group for a number of panels or speakers. One included a presentation by former U.S. Sen. John Kyl, who also is involved in ASU’s Kyl Center for Water Policy.

Participants spend most of their time, however, divided into panels of about 25 people that include a facilitator and recorder. Each panel addresses the same set of questions with a goal of reaching consensus about meaningful actions. Panel inputs are consolidated into a draft document. On the final day of Town Hall, all participants participate in a dynamic plenary session to reach consensus on the recommendations.

The final document is sent to the governor, Legislature, cities, counties and others around the state that are involved in water use, planning, management, processing and other stewardship efforts.

It is a challenging process to digest the extensive background document, to actively participate in the panel deliberations and to come to consensus on meaningful solutions and actions. It is also shared with communities across the state through community outreach programs over the next several months.

The final recommendation report can be found at  www.Aztownhall.org. You will find the Top 6 recommended priorities: 1) moving forward with Arizona’s strategic vision for water supply sustainability; 2) creating and funding financing mechanisms for water supply and infrastructure; 3) appropriately funding and staffing the Arizona Department of Water Resources; 4) educating the public and political leaders on water issues; 5) increasing water conservation and augmentation measures; and 6) implementing various legal reforms. While the final report provides details about each of these priorities, some specific actions noted include: 

•Conservation steps that involve the following ideas:

–Water pricing strategies, including tiered and seasonal rate structures

–Building codes that encourage low-impact development, installation of low-use appliances and xeriscape landscaping

–Exploring opportunities to make better use of gray water in homes and other settings, reduce evaporation, and pursue technological innovations that prevent unnecessary overuse of water

–Opportunities for agriculture to further conserve water through better flood irrigation techniques, drip irrigation, the installation of concrete ditches and other strategies

•Promotion of local water planning, funding the Water Resources Development Fund, and addressing the structural deficit of the Colorado River in collaboration with other basin states; 

•Educating consumers about water as a valuable commodity, water usage habits, and strategies for conservation. A few specifics involve:

–Personal accountability for water use and conservation taught in the private sector, universities, K-12 education system and to state and local officials

–Utilizing social media, i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, to provide instant access to information regarding water issues, use, up-and-coming technologies, conservation and augmentation

–Arizona’s leaders, educators and innovators elevating water issue awareness through the media by providing the media with information and success stories regarding the efficient and effective use of water

•Developing more effective methods for financing investment in conservation technologies and modernize building codes and other policy initiatives; 

• Increasing reclaimed water and water reuse, invest in additional State water storage capacity, and increase capture and utilization of storm water runoff; 

• Maintaining and improving the quality of watersheds and other natural resources that impact water supplies such as increasing implementation of sustainable forest management programs that incentivize private industry to thin forests and remove non-native vegetation and invasive species from watersheds; 

• Streamlining and simplifying the general stream adjudication process, revise some cumbersome and restrictive standards implemented by environmental regulatory agencies, and, whenever possible, expedite the tribal water rights claims process.  

Everyone in our communities can and must play a role. The Arizona Town Hall always includes actions individuals can take to make their own impact on the issue being discussed. When it comes to personal actions for water, the ideas included everything from “getting educated” to advocating for federal and State funding of programs and policies to ensure Arizona’s water security.

That means making sure elected officials know and care about the issue and will appropriately represent the future of Arizona. We can educate our families on conservation efforts and use water more responsibly in daily life. The 107th Town Hall participants strongly urge serious consideration and action on consensus recommendations to “Keep Arizona’s Water Glass Full.”

 

Nick Lund is president of TRACKS Inc. in the White Mountains and served as a panel facilitator in the 107th Arizona Town Hall on Water.

(4) comments

Edge

You can put this in the same category as climate change isn't about the climate. It's all about rules and control based on a political belief system. The water we have today is the same water we've had for tens of thousands of years, and the water before we existed. Two thirds of the planet is water, we just choose to not manage what's available.

che guevara

Thanks for a great article Mr. Lund . Water is without a doubt the most precious commodity / resource on the planet , and the one thing that no living thing can live without . Water has caused many wars in the past and may well be a catalyst for future conflicts as global population surges into oblivion as humanity breeds like rats . In my opinion , water rationing should have been implemented long ago , even in times of seemingly plentiful water . Furthermore , such bourgeois pursuits as golf should be heavily taxed for the water that is required for the maintenance of this pastime . Places like Las Vegas need to be placed on strict water rationing schedules most of all .

Edge ; While you are correct in your statement that the world is mostly covered with water - approximately 70 % . Only less than 2 % of that water is potable , and an increasing percentage of that less then 2 % is becoming more polluted and contaminated as time goes by . The unmitigated assaults of population increase and pollution , combined with drought cycles has only served to hasted the demise of many souls currently living ( or existing ) on this little forlorn planet . Therefore , the question of water management being a panacea of sorts , as you assert , is almost a moot point as there is a dwindling supply to manage and the alarms have long been sounded . I will agree that political belief systems play a governing factor in water usage and allocation ( excessive water usage among California's wealthy illustrates just how political and economic water can and will become in the coming years ) . The hydrological cycle indeed is a closed loop of sorts , in that all water is recycled and finds it's way back into the earths many habitats . The problem however , is that the available water may take hundreds , if not thousands of years to replenish those environments and storage capacitors . The dwindling Ogallala Aquifer here in the US is a text book example of this . The Ogallala took tens of millions of years to swell to the proportions it once held , only to be depleted within a short period of about 150 years due to excessive demands by people ; livestock , agriculture and power plants . Here in Northern Arizona this same dynamic is evident by the coal / steam power plants that suck thousands of gallons of water per minute from the Coconino Aquifer to generate electricity . This , combined with unmitigated livestock over - grazing is what has caused the desertification of so much of our region , and the west in general ( the Middle East and North Africa are two other excellent examples of this as well ) .

We need to start water rationing ASAP , and learn to perhaps live with a glass that is half - full ( or half - empty ) .

flag4

Here we are again with another group of environmentalists trying to convince us of a water crisis in order to enact a political social agenda and far reaching regulations like the EPA's Clean Water Act that have nothing to do with the environment. The facts remain: we do not have a water crisis in need of immediate rationing, government control over how we use our water, or other punitive measures that aim to cripple our state's economy and prosperity. Weather is cyclical and varies from year to year but we are not running out of water. Our Arizona reservoirs, for example, are not facing shortages. National Park Service data on Lake Powell’s water levels, for example, show it as 3510.9 feet on June 1965 and ranging from 3510 to 3599 feet throughout the 1960s. (http://www.canyon-country.com/lakepowell/powell.txt )

Over recent years, the levels remain the same as half a century ago, despite increased water releases from Lake Powell to Lake Mead this year. Here are the recent figures (http://www.usbr.gov/uc/water/crsp/studies/crsp_gc.txt):
2010 = 3638.82 feet
2011 = 3645.17 feet
2012 = 3648.47 feet
June 4, 2015 = 3598.63 feet

Drought scares are based on computer models that have been widely debunked. The better the data, the less dire the drought trends.

The Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M and the Texas State Climatologist do comprehensive scientific research. They’ve demonstrated that NOAA’s precipitation data and modeling are invalid. (http://www.nipccreport.org/articles/2011/may/18may2011a6.html ) According to more accurate FNEP climate division data: “the 1895 to 2009 linear precipitation trend is positive across most of the United States, and trends exceed 10% per century across the southern plains and corn belt.” (http://climatexas.tamu.edu/datasets/fnep/horizon.pdf) The graphs in both reports show Arizona’s precipitation trend has also been stable to positive.

Princeton University scientists also published findings in the journal Nature showing global drought over the past 60 years hasn’t changed, either.
(http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v491/n7424/full/nature11575.html)

It’s important for all of us to understand why we’re being led to believe there’s an impending water crisis. AZDWR and other environmental groups want to enact new “sustainable” water regulations that will cost us billions of dollars and impose massive new regulations that no one in Arizona would support if they knew it wasn’t based on anything true. Residents will see new permitting processes and new taxes (that will increase each year). For example:

• New taxes on property owners for having a private well and new “water withdrawal fees” for every acre-foot of groundwater water pumped;
• New “transaction privilege taxes” on businesses and municipalities for all water used (to generate up to $940 million by 2025);
• New water development fees on communities;
• New “impact fees” on homebuilders, beginning at $500 per lot to build a new home;
• New “well impact fees” to drill a new well
• and they even propose new taxes on bottled water.

AZDWR plans to bring EPA’s new Clean Water regulations here. These represent the greatest expansion of government authority over property in the modern era. The government believes it owns all water, even the rain. EPA is using water environment regulations to stop energy development, natural gas, oil, and mining, and more. On state and county levels, water plans under these EPA regulations have been devastating on local economies, property rights and energy costs, as environmentalists with unelected authority through Departments of Environmental Quality target homeowners, farmers, ranchers, energy companies, and outdoor recreation enthusiasts.

If you are a homeowner or hope to build a home someday; if you are a farmer or rancher and have ditches, creeks, ponds or wells that you use to irrigate your fields or water your livestock; if you have a well or hope to drill a well someday; if you own a business or hope to have one someday; if you use water from your local municipal water system or collect rainwater for your garden; if you are someone who works hard to pay your energy bills and taxes; or if you enjoy outdoor recreational activities… these water sustainable plans will affect you, imposing strict restrictions on your water usage, new fees and taxes, and onerous penalties for noncompliance, even the use of water on your own property.

Families, farmers and ranchers around the country have already come up against these local environmental water regulations being used, for instance, to:
• stop new home building (as a family in Idaho found when they tried to build their home on land environmentalists decided was a wetland habitat and were threatened with fines of $32,500 a day)
• stop farmers from building or using stock ponds on their land (as a Wyoming farmer found when he was threatened with fines of $75,000 a day)
• cattle ranchers from letting cattle drink from ditches and streams on their property
• farmers from irrigating their crops with rainwater (as New Mexico farmers try to navigate new permits and fees)

crittersitter

Yep, you live in the desert you'll have water problems...big surprise. Edge & Flag4, well said. [thumbup]

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