Arizona's pioneering spirit at forefront of water management

Harvard Business Review reported that he world’s population is expected to grow to 9.8 billion by the year 2050, which means more than half the people on Earth will live in water-stressed areas. The demand for potable and irrigation water has never been greater and new solutions for water management are crucial.

Arizona has long been at the forefront of water management and conservation. In fact, Arizona has the highest concentration of water experts in the country, and for more than a century, they have worked to address the challenges of scarce water, developing methods to capture, store, move, and manage water for the state’s millions of residents, agricultural enterprises, and industries.

One of the first federal projects under the federal Reclamation Act of 1902 was the Salt River Project, which provided for the building of new dams and irrigation canals. In 1968, the Central Arizona Project was authorized by the Colorado River Basin Project Act to bring Arizona’s share of water from the Colorado River to urban areas in central and southern Arizona by way of a 336-mile canal.

These management practices have enabled the state to weather the current prolonged drought while preserving agricultural use, holding down municipal water rates, avoiding mandatory rationing, and banking water for future needs. Today, Arizona uses about the same amount of water as it did in 1957, even as the population has increased nearly fivefold.

Anticipating the population in the Southwest will grow from 56 million to 94 million people by midcentury, experts continue to research new methods of conservation and management and to find additional resources. It’s an effort shared by leaders in government, academia, and the private sector working together to find new and even more innovative methods.

The UA Water Resources Research Center (WRRC) has focused on enhancing the understanding and practice of water resource management in Arizona and the region for over 50 years. The WRRC works with ASU’s Kyl Center for Water Policy at Morrison Institute to provide a forum for the public to consider and evaluate solutions; promote research, analysis, and collaboration; and open up dialogue to ensure sound water stewardship for Arizona, the West, and beyond.

With Arizona’s long history of expertise in water management and conservation and the volume of research currently underway, the state will continue its leadership role in freshwater science and agricultural technology—and play a key role in solving global challenges in order to ensure a sustainable future for all.