U.S. Water News Online
PHOENIX -- Gov. Janet Napolitano has called for new water
conservation efforts, including stepped-up planning in rural areas
and clear authority for the state to impose emergency measures during
Napolitano also used a wide-ranging speech on water policy issues
to call for a general "culture of conservation'' and to announce a
new collaborative effort on water-related research by the three state
A "one-two punch'' of record drought and record growth demands
action on many fronts, from conservation at the local level to
multistate negotiations on Colorado River supply issues, Napolitano
said in her address to an Arizona Town Hall gathering at the Grand
Canyon. Her office released a prepared text of the address.
"We must find new ways to sustain our growth in this arid state,''
The governor said she envisions an expanding role for the
Department of Water Resources, a state agency that enforces
water-supply requirements. The department also takes the lead on
behalf of Arizona in talks with other states on supply issues.
Tucson and some other communities already are taking leading roles
in water conservation but more must be done, particularly in rural
areas where regional planning has been lacking, Napolitano said in
her speech and a later interview.
"We must develop a culture of conservation in Arizona, wherein
everyone who lives and works here does all that can be done to
conserve our most vital natural resource,'' she said.
She announced that she has ordered state agencies to reduce their
water consumption by 5 percent.
Such reductions were a step recommended by Napolitano's drought
Mandatory water conservation decisions must be made locally, but
the state also needs to be able to act, Napolitano said.
The Democratic governor said she will ask the Republican-led
Legislature in January to take up the issue of authority for
conservation mandates and that her drought task force's proposal to
have the state trigger action on a region-by-region basis "is a good
place to start.''
Governors now have authority to act under extreme dire
circumstances but state law is ambiguous on what can be done in
lesser emergencies, Napolitano said in the interview.
Legislative action would help the state develop consensus on water
issues, she added.
The "water university'' to be formed by Arizona State University,
Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona will
combine each school's expertise to provide ideas and technology to
help solve the state's problems and provide an economic opportunity,
"Here we can indeed be a world leader in demonstrating how a
healthy, growing economy can sustain itself in an arid environment
during a time of drought,'' she said in her speech.
Napolitano noted that the drought could prompt a federal
declaration of a shortage of Colorado River water. That, in turn,
could reduce Arizona's draw of river water, particularly that going
to cities and other users of water transported by the Central Arizona
Napolitano said the state needs to help the agriculture industry
to transition to groundwater if the supply of Colorado River water is
reduced and to transition land use from crops to urban development as
encroachment on farmlands continues.
Noting water-quality concerns, Arizona and other states also need
to ensure that the Colorado River is safe to use, Napolitano said.
Napolitano said the ink isn't yet dry on her drought task force's
report and that she plans a statewide tour beginning this month to
hear Arizonans' views on water and drought issues.
"After that, I will revisit the drought plan and make any changes
that are appropriate,'' she said.
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