Arizona, Middle East Water Issues Focus of WRRC Workshop
The Arizona-Israeli-Palestinian Water Management and Policy Workshop (AzIP for short), a Water Resources Research Center project that was two and a half years in the planning, focused on critical water issues of the three arid and semi-arid regions. Workshop participants, including managers, NGO representatives, students and scholars from a range of disciplines worked together to better understand water management challenges and to consider solutions as well as build the groundwork for future collaboration on projects and programs. The workshop was conducted Aug. 31 to Sept.2 in Tucson.
In some ways, this commitment might appear to break new ground for WRRC. With the event, WRRC looked beyond Arizona and the West, its primary geographical areas of interest, to participate in a workshop featuring Middle East water affairs. This view, however, overlooks commonalities among the regions. Arizona, Israel and the Palestinian Territories are arid/semi-arid lands, and they confront similar water concerns. Rather than breaking new ground, the workshop was an opportunity for WRRC to view Arizona and regional water issues in an international or global context.
Further, what was gained at the workshop — the issues, challenges and research needs the participants identified - will benefit other arid and semi-arid regions struggling with similar concerns having to do with water shortages, poor water quality and effective governance.
The regions have another shared interest besides a dry climate. Israel and the Palestinian Territories are facing the challenge of sharinggroundwater and surface water resources. Complicating their task are the formidable political issues that trouble the waters, and much else in the Middle East. Arizona water affairs, too, are marked by the need to consider and negotiate the claimks of sovereign entities, specifically neighboring Mexico and Indian nations. Arizona fortunately does not have to contend with the worrisome, highlycharged political climate prevailing in the Middle East.
It is hoped that the workshop will pay a long-term benefit by promoting peace. By working together to identify research needs and developing an international, collaborative research program, workshop participants were engaged in “science diplomacy,” a strategy to promote understanding and peace.