Report Urges More Conservation, Water Sharing In Arizona

By Will Stone
Published: Thursday, January 19, 2017 - 5:48pm

Arizona’s farmers and suburban communities will be among the first to feel the squeeze of dwindling water supplies in the coming years. That’s if more isn’t done to conserve water in Lake Mead.

With about a 50 percent chance of water cutbacks in the coming year, southwest states like Arizona are still hashing out a deal to bolster the reservoir level in Lake Mead. If states can’t prevent a shortage, though, farmers will be some of the first to lose out.

But also at stake are the groundwater supplies that feed development in the West Valley and provide a security net in times of drought. That’s because those are some of the lowest priority users.

On Thursday, the conservation group Western Resource Advocates released a report detailing the impacts of the ongoing drought on the Colorado River and recommendations for how Arizona can deal with water scarcity.

Drew Beckwith with Western Resource Advocates says the state should make it easier to move water around.

“Right now it’s not a very flexible system. If I have too much water one year, it's not very easy for me to sell it and give it to a river or a farmer or a city. That kind of flexibility will be really helpful dealing with future water shortages,” Beckwith said.

The report also recommends more conservation by fixing leaky infrastructure and investing in direct potable reuse, also known as toilet-to-tap.