New members share thoughts and goals for CAWCD board
By Becky Witte, WSP Graduate Outreach Assistant, University of Arizona
In November 2012, five people were elected for the Central Arizona Water Conservation District. The CAWCD and its board members may not be well known to the general public, but they play an important role in Arizona water policy. The CAWCD manages, operates, and directs policy for the Central Arizona Project (CAP), the supplier of approximately 1.5 million acre-feet of water for Maricopa, Pinal, and Pima counties. This water is critical for the people of Central Arizona.
Of the five people elected this past year to the fifteen person board, five were elected in November. Two were re-elected to the position, Lisa Atkins and Pamela Pickard. The newly elected members are Guy Carpenter, Terry Goddard, and Heather Macre. AWR interviewed the newly elected board members to learn about their goals, expertise, and expected challenges for the upcoming six year term.
Guy Carpenter has over 20 years of experience with water resource planning and policy development in Arizona. Formerly he was a municipal water resource manager but now works as a consultant to help cities develop master water plans. Carpenter believes these experiences provided the understanding needed to deal with issues facing the board.
“My experiences have given me a good understanding of Arizona’s rules and regulations related to water quantity and quality,” said Carpenter. “I understand the engineering and construction requirements necessary for things to get done, and I have a lot of relationships with professionals within the water, engineering, hydrogeology, regulation, and construction industries. All of this will help me anticipate and respond to challenges and constraints along the way.”
Terry Goddard also has extensive relevant experience. He served on the CAWCD board from 2000 to 2002 after serving four consecutive terms as Mayor of Phoenix. Then in 2003 he was appointed to Arizona Attorney General, an appointment that ended his term on the CAWCD board. As a returning member of the board, Goddard believes that his experience as Attorney General and the contacts that he made in that position will be useful. His decision to return to the CAWCD board was motivated by his perception of the critical importance of the Central Arizona Project at this time. “The CAP is a critical function for the state, and [water issues] need to be handled right, without a political agenda,” Goddard said.
Heather Macre is an attorney with a focus on environmental law and policy. In the past she has worked on cases related to water rights, environmental permitting and regulation, and land remediation, so she will be able to bring a perspective on these aspects of the legal system. Her working knowledge of Colorado River law, as well as with Arizona and Federal statutes, will be a beneficial for any policy decisions that the CAWCD must make in the coming years.
Macre said, “As an attorney I often have the job to bring two diverse sides together and try to resolve an issue in a way that benefits all of the parties. I am also charged with breaking down complex issues into a more understandable, resolvable format. When dealing with large complex issues such as those brought before the Board, I believe that these skills will serve me well.”
Macre is also one of the youngest members of the board. She sees her relative youth as both an advantage and a disadvantage. She hopes to bring “energy and enthusiasm to the Board and offer up a different point of view”. According to Macre, it is important for the Board to reflect the community it represents, which includes a younger population. On the other hand, she also thinks that her relative youth will be her biggest challenge during her term on the Board.
Each of the new board members was posed the question, what do you see as the biggest water issue facing Arizona residents?
Guy Carpenter answered that Arizona will have to grapple with the issue of increased water prices, which are needed to ensure a safe and reliable supply of water. As infrastructure ages, repairs and replacements will be necessary. Also, the cost of conveyance, storage, recovery, treatment, and recycling could all increase in the coming years, especially if the cost of power increases.
For Terry Goddard, the biggest water issue is a shortage of water supplies on the Colorado River. The Central Arizona Project has the lowest priority for receiving water in a shortage situation. This places an extra burden on Arizona and Goddard stressed that “planning and contingencies to meet shortfalls are needed.”
Heather Macre sees the biggest water issue as the balance between increasing demand and a limited supply. To deal with this she believes CAWCD needs to do long-range water management planning. Macre says such planning “must include more aggressive drought management planning and shortage sharing agreements”. Aware that climate change could potentially have a large impact in the Southwest; she wants CAWCD to “prepare to meet these increases in demand in an innovative, comprehensive manner which balances needs with the sensitivity of our environment.”
Keeping in mind the many major issues facing the board, the board members were asked, what is the main goal they would like to accomplish during their term?
Guy Carpenter wants to focus on establishing a plan for groundwater recovery of stored water in preparation for potential shortages on the CAP. The implementation of a recovery plan would mean constructing well fields to deliver stored water to the CAP. Such a plan “would do the most for us with respect to shoring up vulnerabilities associated with drought or CAP system outages,” said Carpenter. While there will be institutional and regulatory hurdles, recovery and conveyance infrastructure is necessary “to provide a level of resiliency and redundancy that is needed as demand approaches available supply,” he said.
Terry Goddard also believes that the immediate goal for the CAWCD should be securing water for a shortage situation. In the event of a continued drought and worsening of strains on the Colorado River, additional water supplies will be needed to support Phoenix and Tucson.
Heather Macre has the goal of bringing a more sustainability-focused approach to issues and working to engage the community more. She observed a need “for more transparency at the CAWCD” so that community members feel that their voices are heard. She would like to make meetings more accessible and broadcast them online.
The 15-member CAWCD Board consists of 4 members representing Pima County, a member for Pinal County and 11 for Maricopa County. All 3 of the new member are from Maricopa County. Board members are elected to 4-year staggered terms; the terms of the newly elected members will expire January 1, 2018. The Board typically meets the first Thursday following the first Monday of the month. Meeting are open to the public and the meeting minutes can be found online on the CAP website at http://www.cap-az.com/boardofdirectors.aspx .