The record high temperatures in June throw into sharp relief the importance of water, especially to the plants and animals that depend on flowing water for their survival. Riparian and aquatic ecosystems are among the most vulnerable systems to climate change, and as temperatures increase, so will their need for water. Yet allocation of water to ecosystems is not required under state law and, except for a few instances, is not considered alongside human uses. Considering the environment alongside human demands is only just emerging in water planning discussions.
Rivers and related shallow groundwater systems need water to survive and provide benefits to people. Ecosystem services include improving water quality, providing recreational amenities, and supporting biological diversity, among others. In addition, healthy rivers and associated ecosystems have an intrinsic value to people that may be expressed in terms of cultural significance, particularly for indigenous cultures. This intrinsic value is often overlooked as it is difficult to identify and quantify. More
In this issue of AWR we are following up on some of the ideas brought forth in the WRRC’s Annual Conference, “#AZwaterfuture: Tech, Talk, and Tradeoffs”, held March 21, 2016. The conference revealed innovations in technology, communication, and education and explored ideas for meeting water resource challenges. Several of our conference speakers provided articles that bring the conference story to AWR readers. This Special Feature contains their contributions. As is always the case with guest articles, the opinions expressed are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect the position of the WRRC, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, or the University of Arizona.