The WRRC Director, Sharon Megdal, teaches a three-unit spring graduate course titled Arizona Water Policy. This course is cross-listed in four colleges and five degree programs and has attracted students with a wide variety of backgrounds and interests. Listed in the colleges of engineering, law, agriculture and life sciences, and social and behavioral sciences, the course has attracted students from a variety of programs. These programs include soil, water and environmental sciences, hydrology and water resources, planning, geography, agricultural and resource economics and arid lands studies.
During the 10 weeks of formal class meetings, a variety of important topics are covered. In addition to covering the fundamentals of the Groundwater Management Act, there is a focus on water management issues of non-AMA areas, drought and climate change, water quality regulation, private water company matters, effluent re-use, recharge and environmental needs for water. To highlight each of these topics, guest lecturers active in the water resource field share with students the challenges they face in taking on real-world policy making.
To further broaden the students' experiences, Saturday field trips are conducted each year to supplement in-class learning. These have included Tucson Water's Hayden-Udall Treatment Plant, two major artificial recharge sites, and the Sweetwater Wetlands.
Student participation is an important component of the learning experience. Students are required to complete a research paper on a water policy matter and then make a class presentation. Presentations fill out the remainder of the semester.
This course is now part of the graduate Certificate in Water Policy, an option available to students in degree programs as well as students wanting to enroll only in the certificate program. The program aims to strengthen the water policy expertise of both graduate students and working professionals in a wide variety of fields. Just as it is important to introduce physical scientists to policy, it is essential to expose policy-oriented students to the challenges of real-world policy making.