Report: Protecting Consumers

Our Water, Our Future

Policy Options to Safeguard Water Resources in Arizona
Released by: Arizona PIRG

Our Water, Our Future: Policy Options To Safeguard Water Resources In Arizona

Executive Summary

In Arizona, the most recent drought of the past decade has surpassed the worst drought in the last 110 years of recordkeeping. Arizona’s finite, limited supply of water is being stretched between new, fast accumulating demands. Arizona’s population is projected to double by 2030. Much of this growth is occurring in rural areas of the state where there are minimal protections or regulations on water and its use. According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Arizona could face a potential water supply crisis by 2025, meaning that existing water supplies may not be adequate to meet demands for people, farms, or the environment.

This path toward crisis is not inevitable. Rather, it is the product of unwise patterns and policies regarding water use in our state: 1) lack of conservation; 2) over-pumping and excessive river water withdrawal; 3) the threats of inter-basin and large volume intra-basin transfers of water to our environment and economy; 4) inefficient water use in industry, agriculture, and development; and 5) pollution.

By addressing these problems with the following policy solutions, Arizona can ensure that it will have enough water to prosper, now and in the future.

Conserving Our Water Resources
In order to conserve our water, we must not consume more water than our renewable supply. We can accomplish this by focusing growth where there is a sustainable, long-term amount of water and by monitoring and planning for our current and future use.

Preserving Our Rivers
We must keep enough water in our rivers and streams to support recreation and wildlife - integral parts of Arizona’s natural heritage and quality of life. In order to preserve and protect our rivers for generations to come, we must control the amount of water removed from rivers and not draw water beyond what the river needs to remain healthy.

Maintaining a Local Supply of Water
We must use local groundwater supplies in a sustainable manner to protect the environment and local economies. When groundwater is transferred from one part of the state to another, that water is no longer available to the communities and ecosystems where it originated. For that reason, Arizona should maintain the bar on inter-basin transfers codified in the 1991 Groundwater Transportation Act. For local, intra-basin transfers, we need policies that encourage efficiency and temporary leasing, while preventing harm to ecosystems and communities.

Using Our Water Efficiently
We must ensure all sectors of our economy use water wisely, not wastefully, to obtain the most value from this precious resource. In order to accomplish this, statewide water efficiency standards should be set for urban, agriculture, and energy sources. Arizona Public Interest Research Group (Arizona PIRG) – “Our Water, Our Future: Policy Options to Safeguard Water Resources in Arizona” March 2006

Maintaining Water Quality
Pollution is exacerbating our water quantity problems by rendering countless gallons unsafe for use. We must reduce and prevent water pollution as a key strategy for addressing the scarcity of this resource. Wastewater treatment plants should increase our usable water supply and salinity output should be minimized.

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