Report Looks At Groundwater Management In The West

Published: Tuesday, January 30, 2018 - 5:00am
Updated: Tuesday, January 30, 2018 - 5:05am
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Arizona Department of Water Resources
A map of the five active management areas in central Arizona where groundwater pumping is regulated.

California is just getting started regulating groundwater, something Arizona has done for over 30 years. 

California’s new groundwater laws require local communities to set up agencies and come up with plans to conserve. To give those communities some information, the Environmental Defense Fund released a report on Monday looking at examples from across the West.

"It’s not one silver bullet that is helping them meet their management goals," EDF's Christina Babbitt said of Phoenix's groundwater management area. "It’s really this combination of regulatory, incentive-based, supply-side, and education outreach tools."

Among the elements of a successful groundwater program, the report says, are the trust of residents, good data, and funding.

Chris Kuzdas with EDF pointed out that Arizona acted boldly when it passed the 1980 Groundwater Management Act, but the regulations in that law mostly don’t apply to rural areas like Mohave and La Paz Counties. Kuzdas said data like this are crucial in writing any plan for regulating groundwater.

"Part of the issue in those places is that we don’t really have a good sense of how much groundwater is actually being withdrawn," Kuzdas said.

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