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
"Gov. Doug Ducey’s office is pushing a series of controversial proposals to overhaul state water management. One reason is to assure investors that Arizona has enough water for future economic development."
"The agencies are jockeying over a series of issues, many pointing to who controls the state’s most precious resource — and the population growth and jobs it can support."
"The agency that operates the CAP wants to spend $34 million on farmland and water rights from a rural slice of northwestern Arizona along the Colorado River to slake the thirst of the growing Tucson and Phoenix suburban areas".