In the Media: Articles on Water-Related Topics

Water Wells Drying Up on Tucson’s Fringes

By Tony Davis, The Arizona Daily Star
October 24, 2014

When he moved to his Tortolita Mountain foothills home in the 1980s, Glenn Phillips’ well would run over each time it rained in the winter.

“You could pump and pump all you wanted,” he remembers.

Twenty-nine years, two more wells and $60,000 later, Phillips is no longer pumping. Every 12 days, he hauls thousands of gallons of water to his home, nestled among saguaros and ironwoods. His monthly water bill has jumped from $5 when he was pumping water to $350 now that he has to buy and haul it.

His last well, 1,060 feet deep, dried up in 2011, and he’s had his house appraised for possible sale. He would sell in a second, assuming he could find a buyer, if his wife didn’t love the area so much. “Everyone within my view has to haul or have water delivered. There are weekends on the public road when all you see is pickups with water tanks,” he says.

Wells are drying up all around the fringes of Tucson — the Tortolita foothills on the north, the Santa Rita Mountain foothills on the south, the Tanque Verde Valley to the east, parts of the Tucson Mountain foothills on the west.

These areas have been magnets to nature-lovers. They offer mountain views, lush desert, mesquite bosques and plenty of wildlife.

But they sit atop shallow aquifers, vulnerable to groundwater pumping and drought. While the city of Tucson’s aquifer is stable or rising in many areas due to its use of Central Arizona Project water from the Colorado River, most farther-flung unincorporated areas without CAP water have falling water tables.

Read more here.

The Golden Rule on Water? Phoenix Nails It

Editorial board, The Republic | 5:10 p.m. MST October 16, 2014

Our View: Phoenix is looking far ahead to secure water in case of drought. That’s smart.

If there are golden rules that must be abided by in the business of running cities, one is that when a resident turns the tap, clear and clean water must come out.

It may even qualify as Golden Rule No. 1. Someone in Phoenix has been thinking about whether the long-running Southwestern drought might someday affect the city’s ability to provide that basic service. And, to the city’s credit, its leaders are taking steps to ensure it can.

Just a few weeks ago, Phoenix announced a plan to send part of its unused Colorado River allocation to Tucson, which has a greater capacity than Phoenix to store water underground.

Read more here.

We Need More Water — And a Better Way to Deliver It

Susan Bitter Smith, AZ I See It 7:18 a.m. MST October 27, 2014

Corporation commissioner: Arizona water pipes are aging, and that could hurt our ability to grow.

I was pleased to see the announcement of the New Arizona Prize focused on “The Water Consciousness Challenge.” Arizona’s future success is indeed “tethered to how effectively we continue to manage our water resources and develop new water supplies and infrastructure,” just as Arizona’s Department of Water Resources concludes.

NEW ARIZONA PRIZE: Wait for crisis, it’s too late

Newfound attention to Arizona’s water future is encouraging, but the bulk of that new attention has been focused on new supplies and has not yet moved to looking at the need for new infrastructure and delivery mechanisms.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the nation’s drinking-water utilities need $385.2billion in infrastructure investment over the next 20 years. Pipes installed during the middle of the 20th century are failing in large numbers.

The annual replacement rate of pipe is projected to peak in the next 20 years at 20,000 miles of aging pipe per year.

Read more here.


Associated Press  | 4:14 p.m. MST February 3, 2015

California has experienced one of the driest Januarys on record, and the lack of rain indicates the state is likely headed for a fourth straight year of drought.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — December’s rains enabled Californians to finally meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for a 20-percent reduction in monthly water consumption, but more restrictions loom as the state adapts to long-term drought conditions.

California is by no means out of trouble, despite a survey released Tuesday that showed an unusually rainy month helped residents cut water use by 22 percent statewide from December 2013 levels.

The Sierra Nevada snowpack that supplies a third of California’s water is 75 percent below its historical average, and for the first time in recorded history, there was no measurable rainfall in downtown San Francisco in January, when winter rains usually come.

Residents have reduced consumption since July, when the state authorized cities to fine people $500-a-day for violating restrictions on lawn watering and washing cars.

Read more here.

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