Committee reviews state of groundwater supply, management in rural Arizona

Published: Friday, June 30, 2023 - 4:44pm

Gov. Katie Hobbs has appointed a council to study rural groundwater, which is largely unregulated in Arizona.

The committee met Thursday to talk about its mission and outline what steps it will take moving forward.

Members of the Department of Water Resources briefed committee members on the current state of groundwater regulation in rural communities, which in some cases is practically nonexistent.

The state does not even have the ability to measure water use on a number of wells in rural areas, which makes data collection difficult.

The lack of oversight has led to falling water tables and calls for policy makers to take action.

They have several choices, and most of which will allow lots of local input.

"I think it’s really encouraging that the governor and the Arizona Department of Water Resources are leaning so hard to this groundwater issue," said Haley Paul of Audubon Southwest and a member of the committee.

The committee will break into smaller groups to study the problem.

Past options include Active Management Areas, Irrigation Non-expansion Areas, conservation areas and Rural Management Areas, but the the committee could create a hybrid of these options.

"My hope is that we can provide the governor a kind of a mix of options, depending on timeline and timeframe. And then it’s kind of up to the governor and the Legislature to go get it done," Paul said. 

The group has until the of the year to submit their findings to the governor.