Kathy Ferris has been involved with Arizona water issues for nearly 40 years, including being instrumental in the passing of the 1980 Arizona Groundwater Management Act. She was director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources and the executive director of the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association.

Kathy Ferris: The fourth time is a charm

(The story below is built around a recorded interview)

When Kathy Ferris became the Executive Director of the Groundwater Management Study Commission in 1977, it was the fourth time Arizona had created a group to draft legislation to manage the state’s groundwater use. But this time it was different. Rather than include mostly groundwater users, this commission included state legislators including seven Senators, seven Representatives and 11 members who were appointed by the Governor to represent the major water using interests. And there was one other big difference.

“There was a clause that was added onto the enabling legislation that created this commission that if the commission failed to enact, if the Legislature failed to enact the recommendations of the commission by certain date, then the recommendations of the commission would automatically become law,” said Ferris. “We called it the ‘Kicker Clause.’”

So the fourth time was a charm and Arizona passed the 1980 Groundwater Management Act, which Ferris views as her most notable career accomplishment.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of things since then including serving as the Director of the Department of Water Resources, but never in developing and getting enacted anything quite so monumental,” Ferris said. “It’s amazing, a piece of history.”

Read Kathy Ferris' Oral History Transcript
Listen to Kathy Ferris' Interview