County News

According to James Perey, executive dean of Yavapai College Verde Valley Campus, it is easy to take water resources for granted, but to do so is to imperil ourselves and future generations.

“The sooner we can instill a sense of importance about the issue, the better off we’ll be,” Perey said to a roundtable of educators, administrators, lawmakers and others at the college’s Clarkdale campus.

Billed by Arizona Town Hall President Tara Jackson as a presentation and action-focused discussion, “Keeping Arizona’s Water Glass Full” brought together locals to discuss the findings and conclusions of the 107th Arizona Town Hall, which took place Nov. 15 through 18.

Provided with a packet of highlights from the town hall’s background report, participants listened to several presenters from around the state and then offered their own questions and suggestions.

“It really is about individuals,” Jackson said, adding that to leave all water policy issues up to lawmakers would be to give away each individual’s right and responsibility to take action toward a better future.

Sarah Porter, Director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy, Arizona State University, outlined what she believes to be the four biggest challenges facing Arizona’s flagging water resources:

  • Shortages on the Colorado River: “30 percent or so of our water comes from the river,” Porter said. In recent decades, there have been significant shortages due to much droughts and increased agricultural needs.
  • The supply gap: “We may have 18 million people living in Arizona by 2060,” Porter said — a population that will demand, at the most conservative estimates, 15 percent more water than is currently being used.
  • General stream adjudications: According to Porter, water rights tied up in decades-long litigation impacts how efficiently water resources can be used.
  • Groundwater supply: Porter said that groundwater, which makes up to one-third of water used in the state, is “not going to be put back as fast as it’s taken out.” When this resource is exhausted, she added that, “It’s going to be a problem we all have to share.”

In closing, Porter attempted to reframe the participants’ focus, saying, “This is really a discussion about ‘How should we grow?’”

The town of Clarkdale’s Community and Economic Development Coordinator, Jodie Filardo, discussed the impact of growth. Like much of the Verde Valley, Clarkdale has experienced economic downturns while still managing to attract development in recent years.

According to Filardo, discrepancies between urban and rural communities are “particularly telling.”

Urban areas have access to multiple water resources, while rural communities largely draw from diminishing groundwater resources. As communities grow, Filardo said that increasing water storage capacity — and increasing efficiency overall — is fundamental.

In conclusion, she called for increased awareness and responsibility: “Every issue of particular concern demands education .... Everybody needs to own what we use, and take accountability for its use.”


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