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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : opinions : commentary May 26, 2016


5/20/2014 12:44:00 PM
Commentary: We must stay engaged in water's future

Tony Gioia
My Turn


Engagement should be the rallying call for us all.

Arizona is in the early stages of developing a plan relating to our future water supplies. Some alternative solutions, such as conservation and reuse, can be implemented immediately. Alternatives that require extensive infrastructure, procurement of water and financing will require participation starting now. The engagement process will last for decades. There will be no easy solutions unless we want to continue to use our finite groundwater supplies knowing that this precious resource will be depleted.

Changes to Arizona's Groundwater Code, environmental issues and increasing population are issues that necessitate continual monitoring and involvement. Additionally, it will be important that those involved in any planning process continuously educate elected officials and the public on possible decisions prior to final development of outcomes.

Currently there are a number of government and educational institutions starting to analyze our options and necessary changes. There exists three or four groups that we need to participate with in the ongoing planning process.

"Arizona's Next Century: A Strategic Vision for Water Supply Sustainability" was released by the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) in January of 2014. This report clearly indicates that Arizona must act on its potential imbalance of future water demand. ADWR has identified 22 planning areas statewide that, as envisioned, will develop plans for future water supplies. There is also discussion that the Governor will create a statewide Blue Ribbon Committee for water resource planning. Our region and rural Arizona must play an important role in the ADWR planning process and the committee.

In the short term we need to be participate with ADWR to identify how the planning process will proceed and what state resources will be available to rural Arizona. Currently ADWR does not have the necessary personnel, funding or scientific information to provide significant assistance to rural areas. ADWR's current staffing level is less than 120 personnel. This is a tremendous reduction from its 2007 levels of over 200. Even at the 2008 levels ADWR was not able to meet many of our state's water resource needs.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's (BOR) released its "Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study" in 2012. The study clearly indicated that without additional water being transported into the basin the Colorado River could not meet the future demands that will be placed on it from additional growth. The BOR and seven basin states (Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, California and Arizona) are in the process of refining the study and identifying which of the potential supply alternatives should be investigated for implementation.

The Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University is reaching out to Arizona's water community and citizens by asking for responses to questions on the direction our state should be taking for water resource planning. This is an important process that our region's leaders may want to be engaged in. Some of our state's most prominent water resource leaders including former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, water attorney Richard Morrison and practicing attorney and former president of the Central Arizona Project Grady Gammage Jr are helping the Morrison Institutes water resource project.

The Morrison Institutes webpage, morrisoninstitute.asu.edu/projects/arizonas-water-future, states: "Water is complicated, but elemental. Everyone cares about having water to live. Everyone needs to care about how that happens. Arizona's water future is Arizona's future."

We should follow their advise and become more engaged in the direction our state is moving so our region's needs are recognized when the final plan is developed. The Morrison Institute's questions include legal issues such as groundwater transfers, changes to ADWR's jurisdiction and mandate, the connection of groundwater and surface water.

Water management questions are also asked. These include issues such as setting of water pricing, should water be included in land use decisions and how to manage the increasing competition between rural and urban areas in Arizona's water future. New source of water issues include how much additional supply will be needed and who will be charged with obtaining supplies, when do we start planning for ocean desalinization, and additional watershed management techniques.

These are just some of the many issues that will be discussed. Each and every one could have a profound impact on rural Arizona water supplies. Just the three legal issues identified above could have a profound impact on the Verde River Basin. Currently our groundwater is protected from being transferred outside the basin due to 1990's legislation to protect rural areas from urban area water transfers.

Do we need to become engaged in these issues at a more intensive level? Who will take the lead in organizing the engagement process? How do we stay engaged over the coming decades? Do we need to answer these questions now?

We either become engaged or others will direct our future water resources and economic viability.

Learn more about water and the Verde River Basin Partnership on the web at vrbp.org or at facebook.com/VerdeRiverBasinPartnership.



Tony Gioia is vice-chairman of the Verde River Basin Partnership


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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, May 23, 2014
Article comment by: Just Wondering

Without the Yavapai County Water Advisory Committee who would represent Yavapai County in all these state-wide water advisory operations? The tri-city dominated County Board of Supervisors?

http://www.verdenews.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=60439&TM=49383.19

To the best of my knowledge, none of the other local water groups have a seat at the table.


Posted: Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Article comment by: Keep The Info Flowing ...

Tony Gioia's Commentary is a good overview of
of Verde Valley and Yavapai county water issue.

Questions:

1. How many gallons of water is Yavapai county
consuming per year?

2. How many gallons of water is in the Yavapai
county "water basins"?

3. How many gallons of water is being refilled
back into the "water basins"? (by nature/man)

Tony, get factual measured answers to the three
questions. And, please, no more gov studies,,,
at this point studies and theories ain't worth
a plug nickel.

With the raw answers from the three questions
we can make decisions and/or move on.


Tony, Thanks and keep the info flowing,

Frank Henry
fmhenry4@netzero.com



Posted: Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Article comment by: @ NW-NG, are you sure about that? As far as water for wine and food?

A quick search indicates otherwise.

Typical values for the volume of water required to produce common foodstuffs
Click heading to sort table. Download this data
Foodstuff Quantity Water consumption in litres

Chocolate 1 kg 17,196
Beef 1 kg 15,415
Sheep Meat 1 kg 10,412
Pork 1 kg 5,988
Butter 1 kg 5,553
Chicken meat 1 kg 4,325
Cheese 1 kg 3,178
Olives 1 kg 3,025
Rice 1 kg 2,497
Cotton 1 @ 250g 2,495
Pasta (dry) 1 kg 1,849
Bread 1 kg 1,608
Pizza 1 unit 1,239
Apple 1 kg 822
Banana 1 kg 790
Potatoes 1 kg 287
Milk 1 x 250ml glass 255
Cabbage 1 kg 237
Tomato 1 kg 214
Egg 1 196
Wine 1 x 250ml glass 109
Beer 1 x 250ml glass 74
Tea 1 x 250 ml cup 27

http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/jan/10/how-much-water-food-production-waste


Posted: Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

@ No Water No Growth

I don't disagree with your overall statement, but to the best of my knowledge, the Yavapai College vineyard uses water that has already been pulled up for other purposes, spreads it, and allows most of what it uses to seep back down into the groundwater table.


Posted: Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Article comment by: No Water No Growth

Solution seems straight forward to me. No new housing or building permits without a guaranteed water source. I don't mean a source that subtracts from those already here. A different source.

Civilizations have lived here before, and left here before because of the lack of water. Why are we different?

If I am forced out because of lack of water I am. I go somewhere else. But oh yeah, keep encouraging these vineyards. Another 10 grapevine joke just started pulling water from our area. Thrilled about that. heck, maybe the vineyard will give me half a mil for my wells and land and I can farm in an area that appreciates food on the table versus alcohol in a glass. Food on the table requires far less resources than wine in a glass.


Posted: Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Article comment by: Water crisis is here now

Good article by Mr. Gioia, but more emphasis is needed to describe the dire straits we are in here locally in the Verde Valley.

In the Verde we are 100% dependent for drinking water on an aquifer that is already being rapidly and unsustainably depleted.

The January ADWR Strategic Vision report states both Cottonwood and Clarkdale are now unsustainably mining groundwater, with drops of 20 to 40 feet in our production wells.

This is not only unsustainable, it threatens the Verde River.

And this is only providing water for our current population, let alone the 3,000+ new homes Cottonwood has already platted and approved.

Where will this additional water come from for this new growth?

We don't have answers for that.

We have nowhere near the water capacity, storage, delivery, or management systems of Phoenix, which has access to both SRP and CAP water. We have no water farms like Flagstaff, or Big Chino like Prescott.

It is the height of irresponsibility for any of our local officials to attempt to obfuscate the science or try to hide the reality of what's going on here, all for the sake of more growth.

Citizens should demand better and more transparent management of our water resources not only statewide but especially here locally.




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