Voters to decide on rural groundwater in southeastern Arizona

By Ron Dungan
Published: Monday, October 31, 2022 - 5:08pm
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As Arizona and other states throughout the Southwest have tried to manage water supplies throughout a historic drought, the Colorado River has gotten the bulk of the attention.

But rural Arizonans are concerned about groundwater.

In many rural areas, groundwater is the only source of water available. But it’s unregulated, and in the last decade, as water tables fall, major agricultural interests have begun to dig deep wells.

The Legislature has yet to address the issue in any meaningful way, as bills are introduced but don't even get a committee hearing.

So people in southeast Arizona have decided they can’t wait any longer.

Next week, voters will decide if they want to create boards to help manage groundwater. Ash Dahlke is with Arizona Water Defenders.

“Once those well levels drop, the well needs to be deepened. And that’s not a free service, right?” Dahlke said.

Phoenix and Tucson have belonged to groundwater management districts for decades.