Possible Good News On Groundwater

From the Arizona Republic

By Arizona Range News

The Arizona Republic reports that at least four bills are filed, or planned to be filed in current session of the Arizona state legislature that will attempt to deal with widespread problems with groundwater over pumping in rural areas of the state.  This has potentially a major impact for the three rural counties of LD14 in southeastern Arizona.  The good news is that bills are being sponsored by both Republican and Democrat legislators.

According to reporting, legislative leadership as well as the governor has shown some interest as reporting in the New York Times, Arizona Republic and Arizona Star over the last two years has focused on the impact of large-scale industrial agriculture operations on groundwater availability in unregulated areas of rural Arizona.  The four announced bills potentially would:

  • Require large commercial wells throughout the state to have meters installed to monitor water use.
  • Allow rural areas that counties declare as threatened to opt in to metering wells in groundwater basins.
  • Expand existing rules to require developers of subdivisions to certify an adequate 100-year water supply to cover all areas of the state.
  • Change rules for creating INA (irrigation non-expansion areas) to make it easier to limit well drilling.

Constituents have begun to complain and in Cochise county, Supervisor Peggy Judd is conducting a series of water workshops to inform the public of the issue as well as begin the process of getting consensus for some regulation.  Support seems to be growing for changes.

Read the Arizona Republic reporting here.
1/17/2020 Arizona Republic Interview with Governor Ducecy on Arizona state water issues

Commentary from Bob Karp

I have indicated previously that the status quo is not tenable.  There will need to be changes and I will support steps that move the state towards, at a minimum, monitoring water use from large commercial wells.  I believe the first step is to get some data on how much water is being withdrawn from aquifers in the rural unregulated areas of the state.  We need to get fact-driven science involved in the discussion.  The state should also move forward in giving the ADWR (Arizona Department of Water Resources) more tools and authority to monitor the situation.  I will also support some revision in the 1980 Groundwater Management Act, the last major legislation regarding groundwater in the state.

One of the data points that leaped out to me in the Arizona Republic's reporting was this paragraph:

"The Republic's six-part series featured an analysis of water-level records for more than 33,000 wells, including some records going back more than 100 years.  The analysis showed that water levels in nearly a fourth of the wells in Arizona's monitoring program have dropped more than 100 feet since they were drilled, a loss that experts say is probably irrecoverable."

Willcox, Arizona residents have seen well levels drop much more than 100 feet and the problem seems to be accelerating.

What You Can Do

It is time to put pressure on our current LD14 state legislators to seriously consider and support addressing the groundwater crisis in our district.  We cannot afford another year of inaction.  Senator Gowan, Representatives Nutt and Griffin need to lead on this issue and represent the interests of all stakeholders in the district, not just large commercial and industrial organizations.  Below is contact information for each of our elected officials.

Senator David Gowan           dgowan@azleg.gov
Representative Becky Nutt   bnutt@azleg.gov
Representative Gail Griffin  ggriffin@azleg.gov


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