On April 18 – 20, CAP, along with the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) and Salt River Project (SRP), hosted a tour focused on Central Arizona Water Efficiency as part of the Arizona-Mexico Commission’s goal to continue and improve upon the transboundary information exchange.
Day one highlighted municipal and industrial water recycling facilities, in addition to underground water storage facilities and CAP operations. Day two focused primarily on agricultural efficiency and conservation. The tour included stops at the City of Scottsdale Water Campus, CAP Headquarters, the Liberty Aquifer Replenishment Facility, the Arizona Public Service (APS) Energy Education Center, the Gila River Indian Community, Maricopa Stanfield Irrigation and Drainage District, Knorr farms, the Maricopa Agricultural Center and SRP Headquarters with additional presentations made by the Arizona Governor’s Office, ADWR, the University of Arizona Agricultural Extension and Research and the City of Phoenix. Thirty water managers and water users from Mexico including the Director and Commissioners of the Sonora State Water Commission, the Baja California State Water Commission, the US and Mexico Sections of the International Boundary and Water Commission and participants representing the Mexico National Water Agency, Mexicali Water District (District 14), the Rio Yaqui and the Rio Mayo Water Districts attended.
“What we showed tour participants on this trip was the fact that in Arizona we’re basically using every drop of water, at least in central Arizona, every drop of water that’s available. While we use a lot of water for potable uses, we take the reclaimed water that’s generated from those potable uses and use it for a variety of projects which they saw over the two days,” said Dave Roberts, SRP’s Associate General Manger of Water Resources and Co-Chair of the Environment and Water Committee with the Arizona-Mexico Commission.
It is because of the long-standing relationship and shared concern for reliable water supplies that water leaders from the Arizona–Sonora region come together to work collaboratively to develop constructive solutions that are mutually beneficial. Through continuous dialogue and efforts like the Central Arizona Water Efficiency tour, Mexico is able to learn more about how to move water from different sectors and how to do it in a way that addresses water management and planning holistically.
“We have to create awareness with our citizens in Mexico that we do live in a desert. For many years, water usage has been careless to a degree that we are putting our development at risk. We have aquifers that are in danger and we are trying to get our community to understand that we have a responsibility towards usage and treatment for the water we use,” said Sergio Avila, State Water Commissioner for the Comisiόn Estatal del Agua de Sonora (CEA of Sonora).
Avila also spoke about the importance of understanding the relationship between agencies such as a water treatment plant and how it operates alongside a nuclear power plant. In Mexico, this is not something that happens automatically the way it does in Arizona, but he stressed that making sure the people of Sonora understand they too, have a finite water resource and developing a culture of awareness and understanding is the next step for their water planning future.
While Arizona continues to be a leader in water management and planning, it also continues to grow, and our water needs will require additional creative collaborations and partnerships to ensure elevation levels in Lake Mead do not drop precipitously low. Water contributions to Lake Mead by Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada and the U.S. have protected all water users including those in Mexico from shortages, but more will be required in the future. Programs like the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan (LBDCP) and Minute 32X are positive steps in the right direction.
“Partnering and collaboration have characterized Arizona’s water arena for decades,” said CAP General Manager Ted Cooke, “and working closely together to resolve the major water challenges facing our region will become even more critical moving forward. As this tour illustrates, strengthening the relationships among all of the Colorado River stakeholders are key to a successful future as we look to finalize and implement Minute 32x with Mexico, and the LBDCP among the Lower Basin States and the Bureau of Reclamation.