Republic: Arizona’s leaders address water issues

Friday, September 15, 2017

The editorial board of The Arizona Republic cautioned that without a clear focus and willingness of diverse stakeholders to work for the greater good, Arizona could face water distribution and supply problems that make our state look risky to investors.

One key to effective planning is knowing how much water is being used and who has the right to use it. Efforts to reach settlements on Native American water-rights claims have been ongoing for years. It is essential for the tribes and the rest of the state to have a clear agreement on who owns what.

In order to move ahead, “Arizona has got to get certainty over water rights,” says Sarah Porter, director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy. Porter calls water “the gas and the brakes” on Arizona’s future. She is one of many people in the state who get the issue. They provide leadership from an intellectual, scientific, legal and historical perspective.

Arizona also has political leaders who have shown the willingness to do the hard work of looking out for its water future. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told Sen. Jeff Flake that he understood the importance of resolving tribal water rights claims. Flake has shown leadership on this issue in the tradition of former Sen. Jon Kyl, whose knowledge of water law is encyclopedic and whose influence in Congress on this issues helped our state in many ways.

On the state level, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has shown a welcome interest in leading on water issues. He brought together stakeholders to begin discussions about how to deal with some of the significant challenges facing our state in securing future water supplies. These challenges include determining how much groundwater is being used in rural Arizona and how to make sure these areas have the supplies they need for the future.

READ: Our View: What Arizona's water leaders really need from you