The Arizona Hydrological Society held their 34th Annual Symposium from September 14–16. In their keynote addresses, Speaker of the Arizona House, Rusty Bowers, and Arizona Department of Water Resources Director, Tom Buschatzke, discussed challenges associated with Colorado River shortages and Arizona’s role in sharing the additional 2 to 4 million acre-feet of annual reductions needed to stabilize the Colorado River system. Measures under consideration include charging evaporative losses to CAP contracts, limiting distribution of stored groundwater for non-functional turf use, and changing the definition of “beneficial use” to exclude some water-intensive crops. Speaker Bowers also suggested that there may not be sufficient water available to support current rates of growth and development in the state.
Symposium technical sessions covered a wide range of topics and emerging issues. Sessions included developments in characterizing contaminant spread through groundwater basins, climate change and drought planning, and Lower Santa Cruz River Basin Studies. The policy panel featured a talk by WRRC Graduate Research Assistant, Garland Speight. In his talk, “The Value and Prioritization of Water Used to Sustain Animals and Plants on, in, and adjacent to Streams in Arizona,” Speight examined the economic values of water used to support these animals and plants, including real estate prices, habitability, and recreation. These values are used to identify policy changes to encourage use of this water commensurate with its values, including changing the statutory cut to the aquifer for effluent-based managed recharge projects and adding requirements to use effluent in managed recharge projects prior to use in turf-related facilities.