Bruce Babbitt speaks on managing groundwater in Arizona

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Bruce Babbitt was governor of Arizona when the state’s historic Groundwater Management Act of 1980 was passed. The act was designed to guarantee water availability for the next 100 years, and revolutionized water management in Arizona. Earlier today, we spoke with Bruce Babbitt about the ongoing challenges of managing water in the desert.

“The issue now is the other areas in the state where there has been no management… many of them rely on groundwater and in fact, in many of those areas there’s no surface water at all. No access to the Colorado River, or to the Salt River Project. And their entire future depends on the ability to manage the groundwater basins like down in Wilcox, up in Kingman,” Babbitt said.

Babbitt added that the absence of management is jeopardizing the future of those communities. He said that they need the tools to manage groundwater like the management there is in Phoenix and Tucson.

What is the number of unregulated withdrawals in regard to the last few years?

“It’s going up like crazy, this is Arizona, everything is growing. The biggest problem right now… no surface water. The industrial, agriculture is moving in, is draining those basins to the point that the city, communities, like Kingman and Wilcox will be out of water and basins will be exhausted,” Babbitt said.

To combat this, Babbitt said that the communities have grown far enough with their expansions but now it’s time to give those communities the power to put some reasonable limits on further expansion.

There’s a bill moving through the legislature right now from a Representative in Kingman. Babbitt believes this would be beneficial since it is coming from someone living within these communities.

The bill would allow for these specific communities to have the authority to put together their own water management plan as opposed to having their water managed at the state level.

Babbitt thinks this idea is the most important right now to leave water management to the local level and provide them with the tools necessary to manage water.

Bruce Babbitt, Former Arizona Governor

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