As the River Runs Dry: The Southwest’s water crisis

Arizona and the Southwest seek a balance of growth and water conservation as supply continues to decline.

By Brandon Loomis and Mark Henle, The Republic | azcentral.com

lmarquez_LakePowell_LowWaterLevel_052914_296LAS VEGAS – The patroller stopped his water district truck and grabbed his camcorder.

“Here we go,” he said, sliding from the cab and pointing his lens at the fine spray of water and rainbow rising from pop-up sprinklers on the lawn of a low-slung ranch home.

“Thursday,” he spoke, recording the day as evidence. No watering allowed on Thursdays.

Welcome to the future, where every drop of Colorado River water is guarded and squeezed. Only here, in the city that gets 90 percent of its water from the fickle and fading river, the future is now.

The vast and highly urbanized Southwest, built on the promise of a bountiful river propped up by monumental dams, is up against its limits. Already tapped beyond its supply, the river is now threatened by a warming climate that shrinks its alpine source.

To support fast-growing urban populations in a time of dwindling supply, the Southwest is due for rapid and revolutionary changes.

A region that uses two-thirds of its water outdoors, and mostly for agriculture, will have to find ways of sharing and boosting efficiency — a shift that many experts believe will mean city dwellers paying to upgrade rural irrigation systems.

Cities such as Phoenix and Las Vegas, which have reduced their per-person water usage through better landscaping and appliances, will have to do better. They lag behind Los Angeles, whose growing population, by necessity, uses no more water than it did 40 years ago.

Water suppliers from Denver to San Diego will spend billions of dollars to squeeze more out of each drop, and to clean and use wastewater and salt water. It means a future of higher water bills, further promoting conservation.

Read the entire article at azcentral.com.

NASPAA Article on Training Administrators Through Simulations

From Skittles to Governance: How Simulations can Train the Next Generation of Administrators

in Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration or NASPAA.

Authors

Erik Johnston, Center for Policy Informatics, Arizona State University
Dara Wald, Center for Policy Informatics and Decision Center for a Desert City, Arizona State University

For the past six years we have worked with the NSF-supported Decision Center for a Desert City at Arizona State University to create educational experiences using the WaterSim Platform. This model, based on water demand and supply in the Phoenix Metropolitan area, was developed to help stakeholders deliberate on and explore the consequences of urban water planning decisions in central Arizona. The user-interface allows participants to adjust various parameters—population growth, climate change, agricultural water use, urban development, and residential water use—and receive instant feedback on their decisions.

CPI_IMG_9270_296We believe that only through experiencing the realities of complexity, uncertainty and human behavior, can modern public administration challenges be understood.

In teaching game theory to students in the School of Public Affairs, we describe the concepts of “mutual best responses” and “dominant strategies,” but it is only when the students participate in a 1-2 hour game theory tournament, does the nuance of strategic interaction hit home.

During the 20-30 rounds of games—where Skittles are the currency—students play in pairs, in groups, single rounds and repeated interactions, and in cooperative and not-so-cooperative arrangements. In response to game play, the most common phrase we hear is, “That is not how they were supposed to behave.” Within minutes it becomes clear that, as in real-life public administration challenges, knowledge is useful, but the essential component is experience, particularly multiple experiences with varying outcomes. However, there are limits to the use of Skittles.

To address more sophisticated challenges, we have developed an interactive, collaborative simulation to provide an environment for students to experience the challenges of modern public administration, including complex systems that illustrate the interplay of policy, infrastructure, climate uncertainty, and multiple interdependent stakeholders.

Read the entire article at NASPAA.

Vivoni Awarded Leopold Leadership Fellowship

Congratulations to DCDC researcher, Enrique Vivoni, who was awarded a Leopold Leadership Fellowship!

Vivoni2010_296Arizona State University hydrologist Enrique Vivoni has been awarded a Leopold Leadership Fellowship –– a prominent North American program focused on communicating environmental science to a wide audience.

He becomes one of 20 Leopold Leadership Fellows for 2015 selected for their outstanding scientific qualifications, demonstrated leadership ability, and strong interest in sharing their knowledge beyond traditional academic audiences.

The Fellows will receive two weeks of intensive communication and leadership training in how to deliver information about their research to journalists, policymakers, business leaders and the public.

Vivoni is an associate professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. He is internationally recognized in the fields of distributed hydrologic modeling, ecohydrology of semi-arid regions, North American monsoon studies and integration of engineering tools for advancing hydrologic science.

Water in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico is a contentious issue that traverses disciplinary boundaries. Vivoni’s research activities focus on the intersection of hydrology and its allied disciplines – ecology, meteorology and geomorphology – for improving understanding of water resources in this region.

A hallmark of his research achievements has been the collaborative studies of the shared water resources between the U.S. and Mexico.

“I am honored to be chosen as a Leopold Fellow and I look forward to serving as a focal point for water resources issues in the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico,” Vivoni said. “The leadership skills developed through the Leopold Leadership program will be useful for addressing societal needs related to water resources sustainability.”

The Leopold Leadership Program, based at Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment, is a competitive fellowship for outstanding academic environmental scientists who are actively engaged in outreach to decision-makers and the public about their work. Each year, the program selects up to 20 midcareer academic environmental scientists as fellows.

The program was founded in 1998 to fill a critical gap in environmental decision-making: providing the best scientific knowledge to government, nonprofit and business leaders, and the public, to further the development of sustainable policies and practices.

The list of 2015 Fellows is below, and more information about the program is available at Leopold Leadership.

Written by Nicole Cassis

Media Contacts
Nicole Cassis
602-710-7169
School of Earth and Space Exploration

Joe Kullman
480-965-8122
Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

Sarah Porter Named Director of Kyl Center for Water Policy

January 7, 2015

Sarah Porter named inaugural director of Kyl Center for Water Policy at Morrison Institute

Following a national search, natural resource expert and Audubon leader Sarah Porter has been named the inaugural director of the new Kyl Center for Water Policy at Morrison Institute.

“I am so excited to join the new center and help it succeed in finding collaborative solutions to address our state’s water challenges,” said Porter, who had been with the Audubon Arizona since 2006, including as executive director since 2010.

She will begin her new job at Morrison Institute for Public Policy on Jan. 20.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with having Sarah take charge of the Kyl Center as Arizona seeks new and innovative ways and strategies to settle water claims, develop sound water policy through consensus and better educate the general public about water resources and choices,” said Thom Reilly, director of Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University.

Porter has a broad understanding of both Arizona and regional water issues, having directed Audubon’s Western Rivers project, a multi-state initiative to raise awareness of the challenges to Colorado River sustainability, as well as protecting and restoring flows for critical habitats and communities.

“It’s all about securing Arizona’s water future through collective and inclusive input from a diverse roster of agency leaders, elected officials, policy makers and stakeholders. Sarah understands that,” Reilly said, noting Porter’s nonpartisan and collaborative successful initiatives at Audubon.

The Kyl Center, named after retired U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl in recognition of his statesmanship and continued leadership on water issues, was officially launched in November after a $1 million gift from the Morrison family. The Kyl Center is housed at Morrison Institute, which is part of the ASU College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

Kyl, who is actively involved in the center, including the selection process for the director post, said he was pleased by the choice of Porter.

“I was very impressed by the quality of all the candidates who expressed interest in the position, and particularly impressed by Sarah’s credentials, energy and dedication to collaboration – all of which are needed in making the center the success we all want and need it to be,” Kyl said.

Morrison Institute last month announced the addition of two senior research fellows to help with the research component of the Kyl Center for Water Policy: Kathleen Ferris, executive director of the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association; and Rhett B. Larson, an associate professor of law in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU. Both are attorneys.

Porter also is an attorney, having graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree and obtaining her juris doctor from Arizona State University (ranking third in her class). She clerked for federal appellate Judge William Canby and was a litigator for Brown & Bain; Coppersmith Gordon Schermer Owens & Nelson, PLC; and Osborn Maledon PA.

She said she left her law career in 2006 for Audubon because she wanted to contribute to a collaborative effort to address Arizona’s natural resource challenges. She will now dedicate that focus to the Kyl Center.

Arizona Water Challenge

Check out recent interviews with DCDC researchers Dave White and Ray Quay.

November 30, 2014

Phoenix Channel 12 News, Sunday Square Off with Brahm Resnick discusses Arizona’s water future with his panel including DCDC director, Dave White, policy analyst Jocelyn Gibbon, and 12 News’ Dr. Matt Pace.
Arizona Water Supply: How Worried Should You Be?
Amid a depleted water supply and a historic drought, will Arizona run short of water?

Phoenix Channel 12 News, Sunday Square Off with Brahm Resnick discusses Arizona’s water future with his panel including DCDC director, Dave White, policy analyst Jocelyn Gibbon, and 12 News’ Dr. Matt Pace.
Can Arizona Create Water: Why big ideas might not work
The water forecasters say Arizona’s water supply will run short of demand in the near future. The ‘Sunday Square Off’ panel debates whether the big ideas to create more water would really work.

Phoenix Channel 12 News, Sunday Square Off with Brahm Resnick discusses Arizona’s water future with his panel including DCDC director, Dave White, policy analyst Jocelyn Gibbon, and 12 News’ Dr. Matt Pace.
Arizona Water Challenge: Myths, reality of how to conserve.
The Sunday Square Off panel debate the myths and reality of how to conserve water in an era when supply won’t meet future demand.
SundaySquareOff_Nov30_2014
Phoenix Channel 12 News, Sunday Square Off with Brahm Resnick interviews former Arizona senator, Jon Kyl
Kyl on AZ water challenge: Get to work now
Resnick and Kyl discuss how the State must act now to ensure a sufficient water supply in the future.

November 20,2014

Steve Goldstein interviews Ray Quay on KJZZ.
The Role of Irrigation in Arizona
This week, Phoenix has been the host city for the Water Resource and Irrigation Conference. Irrigation has been a method for bringing water to Valley homes for decades.

Parched Cities Share Water in West

October 30, 2014 Parched Cities Share Water in the West by Jim Carlton of the Wall Street Journal. University access or subscription required.

A recent agreement by this city and Tucson, Ariz., highlights a growing trend in the drought-plagued Southwest: water agencies sharing resources to stretch limited supplies rather than going it alone.

Phoenix, which gets more water than it can store from the Colorado River, has agreed to send some of its surplus to Tucson, which needs it to lower pumping costs. In return, Tucson will give up part of its share of Colorado River water to Phoenix when needed. The deal finalized in early October comes despite long-standing rivalries between Arizona’s two largest cities.

“Any rivalry between Phoenix and Tucson is so 10 years ago,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said in an interview.

CAP_RiparianPreserve1Water transfers between agencies have been picking up across the West in the wake of a drought that has ravaged the region for much of the past 15 years. During Texas’ severe drought in 2011, more than 1.7 million acre feet of water were transferred between users, compared with an average of 150,000 annually between 2007 and 2009, according to a 2012 report by the Western Governors Association and Western States Water Council. An acre foot is 326,000 gallons, or about the amount of water used by a family of four in a year.

In August, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California agreed to send treated water to Sierra Madre, Calif., as part of a deal with the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District to ease that city’s water shortage. Metropolitan, based in Los Angeles, will get repaid double what it sent in untreated water, as well as the right to buy water from the smaller agency though 2035.

“This is ushering in an era of cooperation where, typically in the past, each player has watched out and protected its own rights,” said Dave White, co-director of the Decision Center for a Desert City at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz.

Read the entire article at the Wall Street Journal. University access or subscription required.

See below for additional interviews regarding this agreement.

October 21, 2014

“Sustainability: Phoenix-Tucson Water Agreement.” Dave White interview on Arizona Horizon.
Program Description: Phoenix and Tucson have entered an agreement for Phoenix to store its excess Colorado River water in Tucson. The agreement is of mutual benefit to both cities. Arizona State University associate professor Dave White, who heads the Decision Center for a Desert City and studies water management decisions, will discuss the agreement.
Watch the Arizona Horizon interview with Dave White

October 3, 2014

Listen to DCDC director Dave White discuss the new water agreement between Phoenix and Tucson which could lead to similar arrangements between other Western cities, in response to drought conditions. Uncommon collaborations will be vital in the future.

Listen to Dave’s comments on KJZZ.

The Risks of Cheap Water

October 14, 2014 by Eduardo Porter of The New York Times.

This summer, California’s water authority declared that wasting water — hosing a sidewalk, for example — was a crime. Next door, in Nevada, Las Vegas has paid out $200 million over the last decade for homes and businesses to pull out their lawns.

DenverWater_2011CampaignIt will get worse. As climate change and population growth further stress the water supply from the drought-plagued West to the seemingly bottomless Great Lakes, states and municipalities are likely to impose increasingly draconian restrictions on water use.

Such efforts may be more effective than simply exhorting people to conserve. In August, for example, cities and towns in California consumed much less water — 27 billion gallons less —than in August last year.

But the proliferation of limits on water use will not solve the problem because regulations do nothing to address the main driver of the nation’s wanton consumption of water: its price.

“Most water problems are readily addressed with innovation,” said David G. Victor of the University of California, San Diego. “Getting the water price right to signal scarcity is crucially important.”

The signals today are way off. Water is far too cheap across most American cities and towns. But what’s worse is the way the United States quenches the thirst of farmers, who account for 80 percent of the nation’s water consumption and for whom water costs virtually nothing.

Adding to the challenges are the obstacles placed in the way of water trading. “Markets are essential to ensuring that water, when it’s scarce, can go to the most valuable uses,” said Barton H. Thompson, an expert on environmental resources at Stanford Law School. Without them, “the allocation of water is certainly arbitrary.”

Read the entire article at The New York Times.

Innovative Solutions for a Shrinking Water Supply

By Mariana Dale via The Republic | AZcentral.com on September 28, 2014

Water scarcity is one of Arizona’s most serious, ever-present problems.

Which is why students, researchers, professionals and creative thinkers are ­being challenged to raise awareness for an issue that the experts believe needs to be addressed now.

A $100,000 prize awaits the group that comes up with the most innovative ­campaign to push water scarcity into the forefront of public ­conversation.

lmarquez_LakePowell_LowWaterLevel_052914_500The Water Consciousness Challenge is the first phase of the New Arizona Prize offered by the Arizona Community Foundation in collaboration with The Arizona Republic and the Morrison Institute for Public Policy. Underwriting for the program comes from the Tashman Fund and the Lodestar Foundation.

The next phase of the competition will challenge entrepreneurs to create business-based solutions and products to reduce water use.

“The Valley has enjoyed water affluence for a long time because we had really great planning,” said Megan Brownell, chief business development and brand officer at the Arizona Community Foundation, a Phoenix-based philanthropic organization. “It’s now time to act so there won’t be a conflict in 20 to 30 years.”

The competition wants to create a public-service campaign that raises awareness about the challenges facing Arizona’s long-term water supply so residents will feel an urgency to start working on them now.

If Arizonans don’t change how they consume water and start brainstorming new solutions for dwindling supplies, shortages won’t be a choice, they will be an unavoidable reality. Planning for the future of water now will help ensure there is enough water for future generations, Brownell said.

The message isn’t new; it has been taught with puppets, posters, television spots, brochures and landscape-design classes for years.

But experts, researchers and industry workers agree that as long as taps gush clear,drinkable water, it’s hard to keep water scarcity part of public conversation.

“One challenge is getting people to take ownership of their decisions and how they contribute to the demand side of the equation,” said Dave White, co-director of Arizona State University’s Decision Center for a Desert City, which studies water use and sustainability.

Continue reading at The Republic | AZcentral.com.

World Water Monitoring Day

via EPA

Did you ever stop to wonder how we get our information on the condition of our Nation’s streams, lakes, estuaries, and coastal waters? Or whether these waters are safe enough to swim in, fish from, or use for drinking or irrigation purposes? Monitoring provides this basic information.

lmarquez_riparianSunriseThe responsibility to monitor water quality rests with many different organizations. States and federal agencies have leading monitoring roles. Utilities, universities, watershed organizations and even individual citizens also monitor chemical, physical, and biological conditions in our waters.

World Water Monitoring Day is an international education and outreach program that builds public awareness of the importance of protecting water resources around the world by engaging people to conduct basic monitoring of their local water bodies.

World Water Monitoring Day is officially celebrated on September 18, but monitoring and educational events can take place any time between March 22 and December 31. During this time, people of all ages throughout the world community will have an opportunity to monitor the quality of their local watersheds and enter the results of their efforts into an international database. Simple monitoring kits are available for purchase by anyone interested in participating. These kits can be ordered at any time. For more information, visit World Water Monitoring Day.

In Arizona, the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) is tasked with providing stewardship of the State’s precious and limited groundwater resources through active management and enforcement of the Arizona Groundwater Code. The Department’s Hydrology Division engages in a wide variety of data collection activities in support of public needs, such as the Assured and Adequate Water Supply and Recharge Programs, Drought Monitoring Program, well drilling and well impact assessments, and in support of hydrologic studies such as groundwater modeling and water budget development.

There is a continuing need to provide better hydrologic data in many parts of the State and to devote more attention to ensuring that activities are coordinated so that the information gathered and products produced are made widely available within the Department and to the public. This will ensure that pertinent and recent data and results are used whenever possible, reduce redundancy, and increase communication.

There is also a need to collect additional data in areas of the state subject to rapid change, such as developing areas or areas sensitive to change. To these ends, the Department has formed an internal Hydrologic Monitoring Committee to review our data collection activities, adjust the activities to meet program needs (reaching Active Management Area (AMA) goals such as safe yield, development of groundwater water budgets, and models), and to ensure a proper flow of information within the Department and between the Department and outside agencies and the public.

The Department currently collects data concerning:

  • Groundwater levels
  • Groundwater use in AMAs and INAs
  • Spring locations and surface water diversion points
  • Crop types and uses
  • Land subsidence
  • Gravity changes and aquifer storage changes
  • Aquifer water quality

Many of these activities are concentrated within the Active Management Areas of the state, as called for by the Groundwater Code. Recently, the Department has focused more attention in the rural areas of the state in recognition of rapid planned development in those areas and to support the Rural Water Shed Initiative, the statewide drought monitoring program, and the adjudication process underway in the Gila and Little Colorado River watersheds.

Check out the History of Water Management in Arizona.

PepsiCo’s New Water-Modeling Tool

PepsiCo Unveils New Water-Modeling Tool at World Water Week

via PotatoPro.com
September 3, 2014

Today at the Stockholm International Water Institute’s annual World Water Week, PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP) announced the company’s latest Water Report and unveiled Hydro-BID, a ground-breaking data management and modeling tool developed in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) that estimates the availability of freshwater in water-scarce regions throughout Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).

WorldWaterWeekFlag_Stockholm_296The IDB’s Hydro-BID is an open-source modeling tool that has the potential to forecast water availability and supply in the LAC region under virtually any climate, population and land use scenario. To date, the tool has projected water supplies in Brazil, Peru, Haiti and Argentina, and is expected to impact more than three million people across the LAC region by 2017.

PepsiCo Foundation’s $5 Million grant to IDB’s AquaFund is contributing to fund pilot projects, in partnership with the governments of Switzerland and Austria, in five countries and will reach approximately 500,000 beneficiaries by the end of 2015. While some projects are aimed to improve access to safe water and sanitation services for scattered communities in extreme poverty, other projects like Hydro-BID present an unparalleled effort to develop a suite of watershed modeling tools that could be applied worldwide.

In addition to aiding countries with water budgeting and water-resource planning, Hydro-BID helps policymakers and communities prepare for floods and droughts. “Contrary to popular belief, floods and droughts are foreseeable phenomena that governments and communities can prepare for,” said Dr. Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm, Hydrologist and Water Resources Engineer at IDB. “Not only will Hydro-BID help communities prepare for natural disasters, but it will also help public utility and water managers get a better handle on water planning and budgets. Through the support of partners like the PepsiCo Foundation, the IDB is able to develop and implement innovative solutions and approaches like Hydro-BID that will forecast water availability, aid infrastructure projects, and drive local and regional economic goals.”

As a global food and beverage company dependent on water-intensive agricultural activities, PepsiCo seeks to drive water efficiency in its operations and throughout its supply chain, as part of the company’s public commitment to help protect and conserve global water supplies. In fact, water stewardship is a critical component of PepsiCo’s approach to sustainable business development—what it calls “Performance with Purpose”—and one way the company strives to “future-proof” the business in today’s competitive, resource-scarce world.

“Water is a critical global resource and few challenges are as significant as the global water crisis,” said Dan Bena, Senior Director, Sustainable Development and Operations Outreach at PepsiCo. “Water is also a central part of our business, and we know that we need to be water stewards in order to sustain our business and the communities of which we are a part.”