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.
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.
Opinion, Linda Valdez, Arizona Republic: "Arizona water laws do not allow the state to plan long term. If you value your faucet and your home's value, that must change . . . A court decision that some say could dry up the San Pedro River may sound far removed from your CAP-supplied kitchen faucet. It’s not. In fact, Thursday's unfortunate ruling shows how Arizona's current water law threatens the value of your entire home, not just your faucet . . . The ruling ignores consumer and environmental needs. Now it's up to lawmakers to clarify the law so the courts and developers understand the need to look at the whole picture when making decisions about water. The court identified other things that need fixing. Arizona law does not have a statewide requirement for developments to demonstrate adequate water supply. It should. Arizona law does not require developers to warn consumers when higher priority water rights may impact the water supply in the homes they buy. It should. Rural Arizona has a right to grow and pursue economic development, but that should happen under water rules that protect the entire state."
While most hydrologists — those who study the science of water — agree that groundwater pumping can dry up surface flows, courts and legislatures haven’t turned that principle into law . . . Efforts to protect rivers from water pumping in the Legislature, all unsuccessful, date back to the time when Rose Mofford was governor back in the late 1980s, said Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon chapter. “There was a riparian task force. There have been bills that included limits on groundwater pumping within one-quarter mile of riparian areas. Those were defeated by cattle growers and others,” Bahr said. Just this year, a bill dealing with the ecological value of water failed to get a hearing. “We have consistently asked the state to recognize the connections between ground and surface water. Our laws violate the laws of physics,” Bahr said.
"The cornerstone element that seems to be missing, at least publicly during this critical first stage of water discussions in a time of emergency, is the legal framework protecting ecological water — water allocated for rivers to sustain themselves, plants, animals, people and society. Without it — protecting ecological water is like creating a household budget — what is to keep us from spending beyond our means: dewatering our rivers, in the face of development, thereby endangering future generations — life itself?
But to use them, tribes often must negotiate settlements that need federal approval.
Many tribal nations are currently asserting those rights as a way to ensure economic vitality, affirm sovereignty and provide basic services that some communities lack. In many places, however, Native water rights have yet to be quantified, making them difficult to enforce. Settlement is usually the preferred remedy; it’s cheaper, faster and less adversarial than a lawsuit, and can include funding for things like pipelines or treatment plants.
"In the future, it may be easier for similar developments to be built in rural areas. New legislation proposed by Arizona State Sen. Gail Griffin (R-Hereford) could loosen water requirements for new developments in rural counties. But as new projects seek to break ground, environmentalists worry how the added population will affect the demand for the San Pedro River’s water in the future. Biologically, the river is an irreplaceable riparian stronghold for the area with its finite water supply, according to Nicole Gillett, conservation advocate with the Tucson Audubon Society. With more demand for water, what will happen to the river?" . . .
"If a city such as Cape Town, with a sprawling coastline on the Atlantic Ocean, can run out of water, what are the chances it could happen in Arizona, the only U.S. state where parts of all four North American deserts can be found?"......
The Sustainable Water Workgroup, made up of 27 environmental and community organizations, as well as hundreds of individuals, asks that you please take into consideration some key environmental and economic factors as you move forward with developing legislation and policies that will affect the future of water in our state. View letter