U.S. Water News Online
PHOENIX -- Researchers warn there's a disconnect between
some Arizona communities' population growth and their water supplies.
A report issued by thinkAZ, a Phoenix-based think tank, called for
greater regional cooperation, for new regulatory authority for state
and local governments and for collection of additional information
about underground water supplies.
The report was based on case studies of three communities --
Buckeye, Prescott Valley and Payson -- which the researchers said
could face water shortages if they continue to let development
outstrip available water supplies.
Payson's groundwater supplies are dwindling, Prescott Valley can't
reliably predict its groundwater supplies because of unregulated well
drilling and Buckeye envisions using water also being eyed by other
cities, the report said.
"None of them has a sure thing,'' said Rita Maguire, the report's
main author. She headed the state Department of Water Resources
during much of the 1990s.
Maguire said the three communities studied are moving to address
their water needs, including limits on use and requirements that
developers help foot part of the bill.
"There's a disconnect in the timing,'' Maguire said. "The people
move into town today, but the water problem doesn't manifest itself
until a few years down the road.''
And when a city council or board of supervisors tries to address
water and growth, "they find themselves trying to serve two
masters,'' Maguire said. "One is meeting current residents' needs,
the other is trying to ensure a vibrant economy.''
State lawmakers, Maguire said, need to ensure the state Department
of Water Resources is adequately funded so it can help smaller
communities develop sound water plans.
She also believes the Legislature should impose stricter rules on
unmonitored wells in rural Arizona.
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