The 15-member Central Arizona Water Conservation District Board of Directors, who oversees operations of Central Arizona Project (CAP), has been named the Leaders of the Year in Public Policy in the category of government by Arizona Capitol Times.

The Board members will be recognized at a reception and luncheon on September 28 at the Wyndham Hotel in downtown Phoenix.

Aaron Brown, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism professor at Arizona State University will be the keynote speaker. Other speakers include Gov. Jan Brewer, House Speaker Kirk Adams and Senate leadership.

Other winners include David Ira Goldstein of the Arizona Theatre Company in the category of Arts & Humanities; Christine Mackay of Chandler in the category of Economic Development; Cheryl Lombard of the Nature Conservancy for Environment and Russell Smolden in the category of Volunteerism, among others.

In its competition submittal, it was detailed that the CAWCD Board is responsible for initiating and directing planning on critical water needs and supplies for now and into the future. The Board works to safeguard Arizona's current Colorado River water supply and has initiated projects to increase the water available to all of Arizona through efforts ranging from bringing most of Arizona's water users together to plan for the future, by investing time and energy in enhancing Arizona's share of Colorado River water and in beginning to work cooperatively with Mexico to initiate a desalination project in Mexico that would provide a new, fresh supply of pure water to Arizona.

In addition, it was noted that the Board has met many challenges over the years, not the least being a lawsuit against the federal government that challenged the government's right to bill CAP $2.3 billion for construction costs when the maximum by contract was set at $1.75 billion. At the end of a multi-year lawsuit, CAP's cost (paid by taxpayers) was reduced to $1.68 billion.

In addition, at the Board's direction, CAP has played a major role in shaping regional water policy concerning Colorado River water shared by seven states. For many years there were disputes and disharmony among the seven states but that ended with an agreement signed in 2007 that calls for conjunctive management of Lake Mead and Lake Powell. Additionally, Board members played a key role in revising Arizona's position in terms of its junior rights on the River. If there is a drought, California is entitled to take its full 4.4 million acre-foot allocation before CAP can take any water. However, after the 2007 agreement, Arizona remains a junior rights holder but all states agree to meet on how to deal with a sustained drought. Arizona still is in jeopardy, but it has a much better bargaining position now than ever before.

Finally, under Board direction, efforts to increase future water supplies are underway including a stakeholder's group acting in concert with CAP to develop future water supplies which are Arizona's lifeblood.

The awards ceremony is open to the public and individual tickets are $75 and corporate tables are $750. To reserve a seat or table, contact Veronica Mier at 602-889-7137.ontact Veronica

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CAP is the steward of central Arizona's Colorado River water entitlement and a collaborative leader in Arizona's water community. The 336-mile-long CAP system brings about 1.5 million acre-feet of renewable Colorado River water to its customers -- cities, businesses, agriculture and Indian communities -- in Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties. An acre-foot of water is about 326,000 gallons.