Bipartisan panel says Arizona needs to do more to secure its water future
With the Colorado River at all-time lows and a record drought pressuring Arizona’s water supply, policy makers face a number of challenges. But a panel of experts brought together by KJZZ came together Thursday night to discuss the issue — and indicated there may be reason for optimism.
The panel weighed in on everything from conservation to desalination during the event at Rio Salado College.
They agree that the state’s water supply is secure, for the time being. A system of dams, canals and underground water storage keeps the taps flowing. But that system was built decades ago, and Arizona needs new ideas and infrastructure.
“There will be difficulties for all of us," said panelist Kathryn Sorenson, of the Kyl Center for Water Policy. "But, I’m always an optimist. We are able to come together. Arizonans have a really great tradition of coming together, and working out difficult water issues, and I think that will continue.”
The panel included Democrat Morgan Abraham and Republican Regina Cobb, who said the parties have a lot of common ground on water policy. Abraham called it a "not really a partisan issue."
David Roberts, of Salt River Project, said that some important steps have been taken to fine-tune Arizona water policy in the past few decades, including tribal agreements that will be important moving forward.
But the panelists agreed that the state needs to do more.
Abraham said that conservation measures are the most cost-effective means of securing more water, and that there is a lot of "low-hanging fruit" that policy makers can turn to while they pursue water augmentation projects.
The discussion was moderated by KJZZ’s Mark Brodie and sponsored by the Walton Family Foundation.