The Future of Water in Arizona

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Climate change has produced a significant threat to our water supply. The federal government has also reduced our water allotment from the Colorado River. We were joined by two water experts to weigh in on what the future could hold for us and what we need to do now to prevent a catastrophic water shortage.

Dave White, Sustainability Scientist at ASU and Sarah Porter, Director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy joined us for the discussion. Dave also spoke about a recent announcement that ASU was chosen to lead a collaborative effort through the Arizona Water Innovation Initiative to come up with solutions to our growing water crisis.

When was the first compact developed?

“1922 was the year that the states finalized the Colorado Compact, which was the agreement to share water from the Colorado River among the seven Colorado River using states,” said Porter.

How difficult was it to create the compact?

“The compact itself was an important culmination of an era of collaboration of the states and forward looking orientation to plan for the future development of the region,” said White.

The biggest challenge was that the agreement took place during the wettest periods of time. “Some of the decisions that were made created a legacy that we still have to face today,” said White.

Is this still impacting now?

“Now of course we’re facing a mega-drought and a process of aridification, where the region is becoming drier as a result impart of climate change. We’re now facing a 22 year period that is the driest 22 year period in about the last thousand years,” said White.

How little were tribes involved in this?

“It’s fair to say tribes were not involved in the development in the original Colorado Compact. The tribes really had to fight hard to obtain their own water right, to secure their water right, and to have a seat at the table in Colorado River negotiations,” explained Porter.

Dave White, Sustainability Scientist at ASU and Sarah Porter, Director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy

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