JUNE 15, 2011 - Water: From Global to Local


Past President Jim Erickson conducted the meeting. 

Patricia Miller
Diane Dungan

Water: From Global to Local – Emily Wunder

Emily is the Liberty Water Community Water Resource Manager. Her presentation focused on how fragile our water resource is; attempts to manage the resource; and what steps are needed to maintain that resource for the future.

Arizona’s Water Usage
While 70% of the earth’s surface is water, 97% of that water is salty ocean water. Much of the remaining 3% is locked in ice at the poles leaving precious little fresh water. While Arizona is certainly not noted for an abundance of water it does have water resources.
Some areas depend heavily on surface water that has been collected and stored in reservoirs or lakes. Other areas depend primarily on deep wells accessing ground water. Still other areas depend on the Central Arizona Project (CAP) canals bringing water in from the Colorado River. In addition, reclaimed effluent is another source of water being used by Arizonans.
In total, Arizona’s 2003 water usage came from …

Ground water – 46%

Surface water – 37%

Columbia River (CAP) – 15%

Reclaimed Effluent – 2%

The Allocation of Water – A Difficult Task
Large scale management of our water resources began with the National Reclamation Act of 1902. Ranchers and farmers had long recognized the need to build dams for storing the water they would need when rivers and streams would seasonally run dry. Because this legislation provided much of the funding to build dams, ranchers and farmers were able to create the Salt River Project in 1903. In 1908 Indian water rights were recognized but largely ignored for a long time to come.
All of the western states recognized the Colorado River as a source for water. As consumption increased the competition for that water provided the need for an agreement between the states allocating that water. The Colorado River Compact, a basic agreement to allocate the river’s water, was negotiated in 1922. But Arizona was a holdout for better terms. Arizona did not ratify the agreement until 1944. 
Once Arizona agreed to the Colorado River Compact the planning for the Central Arizona Project began. This project provided for the construction of aqueducts to bring the water from the Columbia River to Central and Southern Arizona. Construction began in 1973.
The Colorado River Compact as agreed to in 1944 has proven to be inadequate due to unforeseen population growth and changes in environmental conditions such as extreme droughts. In 2007 the agreement was renegotiated. Conditions will continue to change and allocations will need to be adjusted.  What works one year may not work a few years later. Managing our water resources is an ever changing task.
Saving our water resource through Conservation
In 1960 most of the water used in the Phoenix area was for agricultural purposes. By 2025 consumption by municipal and industrial users will surpass agricultural users. With population growth and the corresponding higher demand for water, as well as the likelihood of more droughts, greater conservation efforts are needed.
Editor’s Note: Emily provided me with her Power Point presentation which gave me information far exceeding the accuracy of my notes.  Thanks Emily.