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.