UA Center Educates Public on Water Issues
A recently released 16-page publication discusses the looming demand-supply gap in Arizona.

By Nick Prevenas, University Relations - Communications
Aug. 3, 2015

Water conservation is an issue of utmost importance in Arizona, and the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center, or WRRC, wants to make sure the public is involved in the conversation.

To contribute to that effort, the WRRC recently released its annual Arroyo newsletter, "Closing the Water Demand-Supply Gap in Arizona."

This year's edition covers Arizona's current water situation, future challenges and options for closing the looming water demand-supply gap. The intention of the Arroyo is to take all of the publicly available information on the subject and summarize it in a clear, readable format to promote education among the general public.

"It’s an enormous topic," said WRRC assistant director Susanna Eden. "We tried to lay out the issues in a simple yet comprehensive way."

The report acknowledges a gap between future water demand and supply in Arizona, but Eden emphasized that the variability of the major factors affecting water sources and uses statewide dictates that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to closing the gap.

The mission of the WRRC, which is part of the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is to provide independent and objective information and analysis on water policy while engaging the public on the major issues at hand.

"We need to have more people involved in the conversation," Eden said. "We think it’s important to provide as much information to the public as possible."

The Arroyo is part of the UA’s strong tradition of outreach efforts, particularly on the topic of water management. Regents' Professor Robert Glennon said that the UA "stands tall" in its contributions to this ongoing dialogue.

"In my view, the UA is the world’s best research institution when it comes to water," Glennon said. "We have hundreds of people on this campus interested in this issue."

Eden said these outreach efforts are working. She said she has seen a notable increase in the quantity and quality of water-related discourse in recent years.

"The public conversation has evolved in a very promising way," Eden said. "People are asking more informed questions about how they can have an impact and what their choices are likely to be in the future."

As an intern for the consulting firm Errol L. Montgomery & Associates, UA graduate student Madeline Ryder spent six weeks reading through more than 50 different government, industry and academic sources for the Arroyo's initial research.

"I was struck by how much preparation was already underway regarding the supply gap," Ryder said. "There was a lot of really grounded, focused work in trying to solve this problem."

Three major documents provided the foundation for this year’s Arroyo: "The Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study," released by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation; the final report of the Water Resources Development Commission, formed by the Arizona Legislature to study issues related to water sustainability; and "Arizona’s Next Century: A Strategic Vision for Water Supply Sustainability," prepared by the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

Representing the combined wisdom of multiple experts and stakeholders, these documents yield a comprehensive picture of the water demand-supply gap and lay out policy challenges for addressing it.

The Arroyo delves into agricultural, municipal and environmental water demand, while outlining the strain on surface water, groundwater and aquifer sources, along with the future of the Colorado River. To achieve a balance and a sustainable water future, the WRRC concludes that broad-based dialogue, increased public knowledge, and informed and active leadership are essential.

Extra info

To download the Arroyo, click here.


Resources for the media

Susanna Eden

Water Resources Research Center