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Forget the science argument about global warming. Whether it is caused by human activity or a normal weather cycle, it is happening.

By Mike Cosentino
Larson Newspapers

Forget the science argument about global warming. Whether it is caused by human activity or a normal weather cycle, it is happening.

The effects of the climate change it causes must be dealt with.

Either way, our children?s world, and our children?s children?s world, will be warmer and drier.

This was part of the message Ariz. Sen. Tom O?Halleran [R-District 1] gave a Sedona audience at the Sedona Public Library, Wednesday, April 4, during his part of a forum titled, ?The Politics of Water.?

?If we ever come to agreement with the rest of the world that the cause is CO2,? O?Halleran said, it would be a good thing.

However, he said, there is much to be done and people cannot just hope it doesn?t happen.

O?Halleran laid out for the audience the connection between climate change, Colorado state?s snowpack and Arizona?s water supply.

He made references to the devastating effects on the economy if the dwindling supply becomes even more limited.

?Are we in the 12th year of a 12-year drought or are we in the 12th year of a 30-year drought?? he asked.

?We should plan for the worst,? O?Halleran said. ?Drought planning must become a priority of this state.?

O?Halleran cited water statistics to support the need for statewide attention:

  • The runoff of the Colorado river will be less than 50 percent of normal this year.
  • The snowpack is 20 percent of normal.
  • Arizona reservoirs that normally should have over 65 million acre feet of water now hold only 33 million acre feet.

?Rain does not help this kind of drought,? O?Halleran said.

?It is snowpack, snowpack, snowpack.?

He said the climate trends that cause the area to get warm in January and February rather than later in the season are the reason for not only the lower surface flows in rivers and streams but in aquifers. And that impacts Sedona and the Verde Valley.

O?Halleran asked, ?Why should Sedona care??

?Sedona aquifers will be drawn down. As surface water dries, plants change and then you will see real desert,? he said.

The Arizona Department of Water resources said that desalinization is the long-range solution, O?Halleran told the group, and that another Central Arizona Project-type system might be needed to save the state?s rivers and streams.

O?Halleran then said something few have never heard politicians say in public.

?We may ask you to vote on tax increases,? O?Halleran said.

?We still need roads. The lack of good roads is effecting the economy. Our schools need more funding. And we need water,? he said.

He said it was a good thing that the various water groups of Arizona are coming together.

?100,000 homes will be built in the north central Arizona region in the next 10 years. They will be built and either the counties and municipalities will get them the water or the developers will,? he said.

?Business, industry and agriculture take the first hit,? in water shortages, he said

A spokesman for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality said that 235,000 new homes will be built in Maricopa County by 2015.

?[O?Halleran is] the one man down south who represents us,? said John Neville, of Sustainable Arizona.

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