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home : opinions : opinions May 29, 2016

7/24/2014 1:54:00 PM
Commentary: 'Don't Worry Be Happy' - Really?
Tony Gioia
Tony Gioia
By Tony Gioia
Verde River Basin Partnership

By now most of us have come to the conclusion that after 15 years of drought and decades of population expansion the Western United States is experiencing water supply problems that will not be overcome without changing how our water resources are managed. The answers to our current and future water resource issues can only be found by seeking solutions through cooperation and recognition that our economic viability is at risk.

On July 17, Western Resource Advocates released a paper titled: "The Hardest Working River in the West: Common Sense Solutions for a Reliable Water Future for the Colorado River Basin." The report highlights some solutions that may mitigate a projected water supply imbalance on the Colorado River of up to an annual shortfall of 3.9 million acre-feet by 2060. The report highlights that best management water practices are required now and into the future if we are to meet the continuing challenges of providing water to an expanding population in an arid region.

The keys to meeting these challenges are recognizing that solutions must be started now and that we must work together. Some of the solutions that can be adapted to our region are as simple as increased savings of water through landscape irrigation and native plant selection. More costly infrastructure solutions such as reuse of wastewater and gray water for irrigation and aquifer recharge will be more costly and require time to implement. There is also a need to recognize that energy production uses large amounts of water in order to produce the energy we use in our daily lives.

When deliberating about energy production we primarily think about how conservation can help us save money on our monthly bills. Since energy uses vast amounts of water for cooling purposes at generation plants energy conservation actually saves large quantities of water. Our nation is in the middle of a debate on the value of alternative electrical generation methods such as solar, wind and geothermal. While electrical generation using these methods may cost more these alternatives use much less water than coal, gas and nuclear generation.

There is continuing discussions concerning the amount of water food production uses in the arid west. Up to 70% of Colorado River water is used for agriculture. Due to the continuing need to maximize their water resources farmers throughout the West have instituted best management practices. As a nation and region we need to have a discussion on how best to use the extensive water resources needed in food production. We must always remember that as our population grows we will require more food. Many of the nations that are currently exporting food also are facing increasing water supply issues.

Water supply solutions must be part of an ongoing national dialogue on how best to use our nation's valuable natural resources. We cannot afford to view our water resources in a myopic way. The debate must include the needs of increasing population, food production, energy needs, recreation, wildlife and other environmental factors.

While the Verde River Basin has some commonality with the Colorado River Basin water supply issues we are also challenged by our dependence on groundwater for our personal, agricultural, and surface water needs. The most important issues we share are our need to address water supply issues now and to start a process based on solutions now and into the future.

When contemplating the water issues facing the West we should not be thinking of the saying, "Don't worry be happy." Instead we should be facing these issues now so in the future we will be happy we met these challenges and in the process secured our economy, preserved our water resources and quality of life.

For additional information on the Verde River Basin Partnership or water issues please to the Partnership's website at vrbp.org and visit us as Facebook.com/verderiverbasinpartnership.

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

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, August 2, 2014
Article comment by: Maggie Holt

Hello, did anyone read Thomas McCabe's comment? There's a whole lot of talk about strategizing, but Mr. McCabe seems to be the only one with concrete suggestions, and they just happen to make sense. Oh, my!

Posted: Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Article comment by: Lauren Garret makes an interesting point .

Who better than ADWR... who, if you read the linked report, does not claim that specific VV municipalities are mining water.

Per the ADWR the only area found to be mining water was Prescott and they are now in an AMA or Active Management Area.

So indeed... who better to give credit than the DWR rather than somebody that has historically posted with an agenda towards defaming 2 certain municipalities, who inflated well drops far above the numbers given in the report they in fact offered as proof of their position?

We all agree we have water issues, but certain people who try and demonize municipalities, cherry pick and inflate data from reports that are taken out of context... are not helping solve the issue. Rather they are muddying the waters with an obvious no-growth (after 'my' growth) agenda.

Stick to the facts... don't inflate them, as that lowers the level of intelligence in all our mental wells and we need all we can get from here on out.

Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Article comment by: Lauren Garrett

So who do you think has more credibility on water mining in the Verde Valley - an anonymous poster or the Arizona Department of Water Resources?

There is a very simple and obvious solution: the City of Cottonwood and Town of Clarkdale should make public the water levels in our production wells.

Show us the numbers, please. And please provide regular and ongoing updates, so the public can monitor this like we do the surface flow of the Verde River.

I agree with "more transparency needed", there is no good reason to hide this information from the public.

After all, if these towns are already unsustainably mining groundwater now, how on earth will they provide for future growth?

They will dry up our only source of drinking water and the Verde River too.

Water is a public resource owned by the people in Cottonwood and Clarkdale. And the people have a right to know.

Disclose the information.

Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Article comment by: Tom Babbitt

Water war bubbling up between California and Arizona


Posted: Monday, July 28, 2014
Article comment by: @ Here what, interesting math you have there.

So a report says 'near' cottonwood and clarkdale well levels declined by '20 to 40 feet, or more' and it is 'generally' due to pumping.

So 'near' now equals the actual specific city/town wells? And 20-40 feet in many wells is now 40 to 60 feet in those specific municipal wells?

Not to mention that well in the Verde Valley are actually part of an area far greater than the 2 municipalities you seem to obsess over. Isn't there something called the Verde planning area that includes Prescott and it's active management area and another basin? Per your linked report?

Just because you find a fancy report that supports your position (then proceed to inflate the data from the report) does not mean that the report is infallible or is not being taken out of context.

Some place in past articles or comments we see where the actual amount pumped by the city has declined between 20 and 30 percent while still providing the same amount of service. No kudos for that? Lets see.. a google search turns up...

"The City is pumping about 15 percent less water today than it did in 2005 and almost 20
percent less than what it was projected to pump in 2012. The City’s total gallons per capita per daily (GPCD) use has been reduced by almost 30 percent. The City’s continuous upgrades and maintenance of
the water delivery system has reduced system losses by almost 80 percent."


Well gee... sure seems like good stuff there but maybe that is not what you are really after?

Posted: Monday, July 28, 2014
Article comment by: Here's what ADWR says

"Near Cottonwood and Clarkdale, water levels declined by 20 to 40 feet, or more, in many wells. The water
level declines in this area are generally due to increased municipal and industrial pumping." (page 19-2)


Posted: Monday, July 28, 2014
Article comment by: @ more transparency -

Funny that a nameless requester is asking for transparency.

Would you care to cite the source of your 40-60 foot drop claim?

Spreading mis/dis info is not a solution and really serves no purpose other than to highlight your personal agenda of using out of context data numbers to scare people into the submission of the no-growth game plan.

If the growth was good enough for you then why is it not allowed for those after you?

Posted: Friday, July 25, 2014
Article comment by: Len Marinaccio

We can no longer pretend that water importation is going to save us. While it may help us down the road, it will likely be too little too late. Water users are already descending upon every appreciable water source. This water crisis exists all over the southwest (soon to most of the western U.S.) and a strategy of picking each others' pockets for this precious resource (at a hefty cost no less) is laughable.

Even if water importation does prove feasible, it always takes a long time to implement. Every year that we wait on a "pipe dream" is another year we fall further into overdraft, risking increasing damage to our lifestyles, economy, and environment. For this reason, I think it behooves us to start right away with regional conservation plans.

Let's be clear: Conservation alone is not likely to solve all of our water shortages but the sooner we can reign in some of this problem, the sooner we can develop more sustainable strategies. Implementing even a partial solution right now makes a more complete solution easier to develop later.

While the political leaders of the Prescott and Verde Valley regions have many disagreements over water policy, one thing they can usually agree on is the need for water conservation. However, even conservation is a tough political step to take without broad public support. Fortunately, awareness is growing! Every week I see more and better articles and responses regarding water. I believe that the tipping point is near and our local leaders are becoming more comfortable with conservation based policy. All they need is to know that there is support out there. They have mine. What about yours?

Posted: Friday, July 25, 2014
Article comment by: Thomas Mccabe

In my last inquiry Prescott requires new developments to guarantee 100 year water supply for new construction. (Doesn't look like we have enough water to last 5 years.) How about Cottonwood and Cornville? If the situation is so dire then a moratorium should be placed on all construction. Ouch! Some other suggestions would be putting all perennials and shrubs in the no buy zone. Look, folks it either them or us! Require that all homes have a hot water pump with timer installed. Mandatory water saving shower heads. Outlaw new construction of backyard pools. Out law construction of new golf courses. Spend more on fire prevention in forests. Closing trails is not the answer as has been done in Yavapai and Coconino Counties. Do we have the nerve?

Posted: Friday, July 25, 2014
Article comment by: More transparency needed from Cottonwood and Clarkdale

Another good article from Tony.

To this I would add the importance of more transparency from our municipal water providers, specifically Cottonwood and Clarkdale.

They both operate numerous production wells located in the upper Verde Valley. Earlier this year the ADWR informed us they both are unsustainably mining groundwater, citing static water level drops of 40 to 60 feet in production wells.

Yet we never hear acknowledgement or discussion of this ongoing water mining from either town.

So we want to know the facts. How bad is it? What specifically are the well static water levels, and how fast are they dropping?

Most importantly, what are we going to do about it?

Our water supply, and water future, is too important to hide this information from the public.

Posted: Friday, July 25, 2014
Article comment by: two cents

Interesting now that it is starting to be recognized as such an important issue with such dire consequences, when in reality it always has been and it is probably too late.

Pumping the Big Chino will be our eventual demise, because politics and money got in the way of common sense

There are a lot of things that can be done to limit and conserve water but they aren't even being talked about because of the politics involved. Things like meters on wells and very limited watering of golf course during drought conditions. Using bath and shower water for watering your plants and for flushing your toilets. Water your outside plants by hand, and if you wash your own cars, use a bucket of water to wash and one or two buckets to rinse rather than using the hose. Only use your hose to fill buckets.

All of these things will help, getting people to comply with anything that effects their comfort is and has been fruitless, so its easier for them to just think positive, be happy, and God or whatever will make everything work out just fine.

Just my two cents worth HAVE A NICE DAY BE HAPPY

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