Republic: Experts explain water challenges at conference

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Arizona Republic reported that more than 250 guests attended “The Water Scare: What’s Real?” The sold-out event, sponsored along with the Kyl Center for Water Policy at ASU's Morrison Institute, was held at the Arizona Historical Society Museum in Tempe. Participants said what’s real is that the state faces challenges, but nothing like what non-residents often think when they hear the name “Phoenix.”

For Arizona, tomorrow’s questions revolve around conservation, farm efficiency, technology and a commitment to living within the desert’s means. They also will be key political issues.

“Demand water literacy from our elected officials,” said Sarah Porter, director of Arizona State University’s Kyl Center for Water Policy.

Porter said she has participated twice this year in panel discussions asking whether a desert city like Phoenix should exist. She said she had to explain that the city and state have repeatedly met water challenges over the decades.

Kathleen Ferris, an architect of that law, now leads the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association. She said it's time for the state Legislature to enable similar conservation in rural areas such as Willcox, where wells are running dry.

A committee in Willcox is seeking authority to create a conservation plan governing pumping, and a neighboring valley is experiencing similar difficulties.

“If there’s not intervention in these basins, they are doomed,” Ferris (Morrison Institute Senior Research Fellow) said.

Phoenix has stored years’ worth of supply underground and decade by decade, per-person water consumption has consistently declined. Nonetheless, The Republic reported, several presenters discussed emerging challenges Arizona will need to overcome, including climate change and groundwater pumping limits in rural areas.

READ: Water experts: Arizona faces challenges, but it's no California