SWWG Press Release: Two Arizona water coalitions join in nominating the 2019 winner of the Stockholm Water Prize

Contact:  Kristen Wolfe, Sustainable Water Workgroup, Coordinator, kmwolfe86@gmail.com, (203) 710-6461

March 22, 2019

For Immediate Release

Arizonans Celebrate World Water Day
Two Arizona water coalitions join in nominating the 2019 winner of the Stockholm Water Prize

To celebrate World Water Day, the Sustainable Water Workgroup and the Community Water Coalition of Southern Arizona announced that they joined an international team of individuals and groups in nominating Dr. Jackie King (Cape Town, So. Africa) for the prize.

Dr. King received this prestigious international award for her work with rivers – specifically, the science of environmental flows (quantity, timing, quality of water required to sustain plants, animals, human livelihoods). Her work highlighted the importance of maintaining these river flows as part of sound water management and sustainable water policy. More countries are turning to the science of e-flows to re-write their water laws. According to Torgny Holmgren (Executive Director of the Stockholm International Water Institute), “Dr. King has helped decision-makers understand that healthy river ecosystems are not a luxury, but the basis for sustainable development.”

In 2006 Dr. King visited Arizona as part of a tour of the Americas. Several University of Arizona and Arizona State University departments supported her visit as well as the office of Congressman Raul Grijalva and multiple environmental, business and faith groups. The purpose was to promote a dialogue about best practices in water management in a warming world.

The Sustainable Water Workgroup, a state-wide coalition of 35 groups and individuals (and the winner of the 2018 Capitol Times Leader of the Year environmental award) supported Dr. King’s nomination because it shares the vision of the need to protect environmental flows as the cornerstone of water management in this era of unpredictable climate. The coalition has drafted water legislation to study the environmental (ecological) flow needs of Arizona rivers and to allow the option of leaving more water in our rivers.  The process of sharing this legislation with water experts, legislators, and the general public has in the past two years generated debate and interest.

The Stockholm Water Prize will be awarded on August 28th, 2019 in Stockholm, Sweden.  

#WorldWaterDay: SA scientist Dr Jackie King wins Stockholm Water Prize

“South Africa’s Dr Jackie King has been named as the Stockholm Water Prize Laureate for her groundbreaking contributions to global river management.

Her work has provided tools to decision makers allowing them to quantify the real costs and benefits of developing river systems as well as advancing the scientific understanding of water flows.

In response to receiving the prize, Dr King had the following to say: “I find it humbling, energising and rewarding. I have never sought high-profile jobs but was happy to be a working scientist, free to say what I felt needed to be said.

Dr King, while a researcher at the University of Cape Town, and later as an Honorary Professor at the University of the Western Cape led the development of the tools for river management.

Her work in conjunction with her colleagues created methods to show the ecological and social implications of damming and de-watering rivers.

“Dr Jacqueline King has, through scientific rigour, selfless dedication and effective advocacy, transformed the way we think, talk and work with water as a flow of and for life,” commented the nominating committee.”

Dr Jackie King. Photo: Stockholm International Water Institute.

Dr Jackie King. Photo: Stockholm International Water Institute.

Matt Clark: Drought contingency plan fails to conserve Arizona’s precious rivers

The DCP gives no love to the San Pedro, nor for that matter to any of our state’s other beleaguered rivers, like the Verde River, whose still-perennial waters support myriad wildlife and the economies of rural Arizona communities.

Do we want any of our remaining living rivers to go the way of the Santa Cruz? Most Arizonans would say “absolutely not!” And yet, here we are.

We desperately need to modernize Arizona’s water laws to be able to sustain gems like the San Pedro and Verde rivers, and to revive cultural and economic treasures such as the Santa Cruz.

One solid step in the right direction is to pass legislation to recognize “ecological water” as a beneficial use under Arizona’s existing water laws.

This addition would protect existing property rights and allow for the voluntary transfer of water rights for the benefit of our rivers, their ecosystems and the many communities and businesses that rely upon these values.

If you care about the future of our rivers, it’s urgent for you to call on your state legislators now to hold a public hearing for SB 1370 and HB 2630 this week, lest conservation of our living rivers be omitted from our leaders’ water agenda yet again.

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AZ Daily Star: Second lawsuit filed over massive Vigneto project in Benson

“The plaintiffs in the lawsuit — the Lower San Pedro Watershed Alliance, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Tucson Audubon Society, Maricopa Audubon Society and Cascabel Conservation Association — say the development’s water use will drain surface water flows along the San Pedro River and St. David Cienega, and harm millions of migratory birds, including listed species. . . .

Bird- and wildlife-watching is a $1.4 billion industry in Arizona, said Nicole Gillett, conservation advocate for the Tucson Audubon Society, one of the plaintiffs.

“The San Pedro, being the unique habitat that it is for the whole of the Southwest of the United States, is a big draw for birders,” she said. “Any kind of water drawdown will not only damage the habitat and the species reliant on it, but we might also see fewer eco-tourists as a result of that degraded habitat.

“We all benefit from whole and healthy ecosystems,” she said. “It’s not just birds and wildlife. These are resources that, in the end, are going to be our legacy for our kids and anyone that moves to Arizona.”

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AZ Daily Star - Arizona drought plan pushes unsustainable growth, farming practices

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“But for longtime Sierra Club lobbyist Sandy Bahr, the plan, far from being groundbreaking, represents another run at “business as usual” for the state. As the Arizona version of the drought plan is now written, she says it’s propping up what she sees as unsustainable growth and unsustainable farming practices.

As the plan is now conceived, Pinal County farms and Phoenix-area cities along with the Tohono O’Odham and Gila River tribes, would give up some or a good deal of their CAP supplies.

But farms would get at least $18 million in state subsidies to build new wells and other infrastructure to pump groundwater in its place. The cities would not lose any of their highest-priority CAP water until Lake Mead drops more than 50 feet lower than it is today.

Here are some questions and answers from Bahr about the drought plan, which is being pushed to meet a Jan. 31 federal deadline to enact it.”

AZ Capitol Times - Democrats: Water plan missing conservation requirement

“House Democrats are balking at ratifying a proposed drought contingency plan over what they see as a key missing element.

Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez said Thursday many of her members question why there’s nothing in the proposal to require more water conservation.

Instead, it is more focused on finding ways to move water around, particularly to meet the needs of Pinal County farmers. But the Yuma Democrat said that does not deal with the underlying problem that Arizona is using more water than is naturally available.”

AZ Foothillls Magazine: Arizona Capitol Museum to Exhibit the Paintings of Tony Winters: Renegades-Arizona's Undammed Rivers

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The Arizona Capitol Museum (AZCM) is proud to present nationally recognized landscape artist Tony Winters' new collection of oil paintings "Renegades: Arizona's Undammed Rivers." The title refers to the last two rivers in Arizona that have never been dammed. This series portrays the Upper Verde and the San Pedro, Arizona's last remaining wild rivers. Winters documents the remote desert rivers as they appear today, from the Mexican border crossing to the rugged canyons of Yavapai County . . . The exhibition will open with a private event on Thursday, October 25th (opening to the public on October 26) and run through the end of December 2018.

Pinal Central Opinion: Danger in Water Ruling

Arizona has done a pretty good job of dealing with scant water supplies up to now, realizing that more and more people want to live in this desert climate. Two of the biggest parts of that planning were the passage of groundwater reform nearly 40 years ago and the receipt of Colorado River water from the Central Arizona Project soon after. On Wednesday, however, an Arizona Supreme Court decision cast a shadow over the status quo . . . 

Environmentalists long have rallied behind the San Pedro, the last free-flowing, year-round river in the Southwest. This is important, but so is proper planning that will affect the future of state residents.

Areas outside Arizona’s “active management areas” have less oversight under the 1980 groundwater law. But they need more as the state grows, developments are proposed and groundwater is further taxed. Plaintiffs in the case plan to pursue a remedy in federal court, which may help. Arizona, however, needs to do more to protect its water supplies. The state should have more legislation that enhances its ability to plan for the future. That will take some bipartisanship and foresight, the kind that helped get Arizona to the place it’s in today.