… Rattle your cage … a perspective from outside in …
WHO ARE ARIZONA’S
WATER WISEMEN …?
A brilliant sun pierces what moments earlier hosted a dim Arizona landscape of soaring mountains, towering Ponderosa pines, exquisite configurations of Saguaro cactus arms, the Grand Canyon majestically over eons carved by the mighty Colorado River, now one of the west’s premier providers of life sustaining water.
At appointed times in richly adorned offices and boardrooms in metro Phoenix men and women arrive, exchange pleasantries, ostensibly gathering to consciously deliberate Colorado River water. Conducted under controlled auspices of Central Arizona Project (CAP) … Arizona Dept of Water Resources (ADWR) … Arizona Governor’s Office … Arizona State Legislature … Salt River Project (SRP) … these discussions host the “mightiest” movers and shakers from “big-ag” … metro water purveyors … corporate industry … land developers … for-profit-consulting-engineers … academia … government regulators and the now ever ubiquitous phalanx of attorneys.
Providing one is keeping score, one party not invited is the PUBLIC.
Within these hallowed discussions emphasis is on how those assembled protect at all costs what they perceive as their proprietary claim to water from the Colorado River.
Some though certainly not all participants and groups are subject to provision of Arizona’s Open Meeting Laws which when skillfully applied can be used to plausibly deny the PUBLIC easy access to full disclosure and transparency to the actions of the participants.
Positioned as part of the lower basin states per the Compact of the River which allocated the water of the Colorado River, Arizona finds itself in a never ending dog-fight with Nevada and California over dwindling Colorado River water.
Interestingly, Nevada during the first decade of the 21st century, surpassed Arizona in terms of percentage as growth leader in population in Las Vegas which utilizes the lion’s share of their allotment,
instituted some out of the box thinking respecting water conservation, while in metro-Phoenix water conservation remains an anathema. Arizona credo to state-wide water conservation is … “he who can write the biggest check and has the baddest badass attorney”
Modifications to the Compact of the River altered the water allocation making in Arizona’s case the Native Americans one of the more significant owners of Colorado River water. But like the Native Americans quickly note, what they own is “paper-water” while what they need is “wet-water” which subject to the “white-man’s” political maneuverings is extremely volatile and corrupted.
Crossing the Rubicon …While still a territory Arizona adopted the law of prior appropriations for surface water, but under territorial law, “percolating” underground water is an attribute of the overlying land, subject to capture and use by the landowner without regard to priority.
Until the 1950’s this water law in Arizona understandably lead to over pumping and declining surface water supply. This over pumping was the result of court ruling declaring groundwater was to be governed by the doctrine of prior appropriation. Almost immediately the court reversed itself declaring subsurface water governed by the “American” rule of reasonable use, allowing the landowner to capture and use groundwater from beneath the surface, but not to transport the groundwater away from the land from which it was withdrawn.
This attempt did not significantly alter over pumping resulting in Arizona’s instituting its Groundwater Management Act of 1980, under the tutelage of then Governor Bruce Babbitt.
Under this code, certain basins were closed to new irrigated agriculture and a series of permits and “grandfathered” groundwater rights were implemented designed to limit the development of groundwater in depleting basins, which were designated as Active Management Areas (AMAS).
This act also created a new state government agency – Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) – which was to oversee the basin-wide management of the AWAS by imposing mandatory conservation measures on municipal, industrial, irrigation users of groundwater. A goal was to achieve “safe yield” or equilibrium conditions in the aquifer by 2025.
Note … additional information can be obtained at …
… or perhaps you are aware of other sites…
Water wisdom at that time lead additionally to the creation of … The Assured Water Supply (AWS) program was created as part of the historic 1980 Groundwater Management Act, and operates within Arizona’s five Active Management Areas. The AWS Rules are designed to protect groundwater supplies within each Active Management Area (AMA) and to ensure that people purchasing or leasing subdivided land within an AMA have a water supply of adequate quality and quantity. Thus, in each AMA, new subdivisions must demonstrate to the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) that a 100-year assured water supply is available to serve the subdivision before sales can begin. … as currently administered and implemented causes many to question its efficacy.
Many water experts acknowledge currently it is not possible to ascertain with certainty the total amount of water in any AMA. This currently results in water withdrawals in Arizona’s AMA’s … like the accompanying picture illustrates … unrestricted multiple water wells in any AMA indicative of Arizona’s faithfulness to its water credo consistently echoed by all levels of government and their regulatory bodies … Arizona does NOT have a water shortage issue.
Perhaps you too find it a bit perplexing how issues of water shortages, water quality, water availability, water conservation appear with frequency on national news, internet blogs, YouTube videos, while failing to be the subject of any contemplative in-depth assessment by Arizona’s political and government water leaders…?
In the crapper … My own bewilderment increases when I factor in how Arizona currently chooses to address the issues associated with domestic residential onsite sewage commonly referred to as “septic-systems.”
In the early years of the 21st century, Arizona embarked on a herculean effort to collate and codify what heretofore had been bulletins and guidelines, affecting the design, construction, O&M and resale of “septic systems” into rigidly defined rules, regulations and law to be blanket applied across all of Arizona.
The legal process for such a task mandates compliance with Arizona’s Open Meeting Laws, which as noticed previously can be auspiciously applied so as to plausibly deny the PUBLIC full disclosure and transparency on the actions being taken in their name. Behind closed doors, your government treats you – their “boss” – as mushrooms, while expecting you to willingly acquiesce to their every command.
These rules destined to become law and regulations by government regulators in your stead in 2001 controlling “septic systems” were wrapped in … UNIFED PERMITS RULE … quickly unraveled, even after being revised in 2005. Today 10 years later having morphed into fragments arbitrarily applied rather capriciously by each of Arizona’s 15 separate County Environmental Health regulators. The Titanic stayed afloat longer than these boasted state-wide rules presented to the PUBLIC as carved in stone to be uniformly, stanchly and decisively applied.
The first decade of the 21st century saw Arizona, like much of the nation, ride to incredible heights and to fall to disastrous lows. Heady growth rates propelled a building boom in virtually all parts of Arizona, especially in areas not served by a community or municipal sewer system, those relying on domestic residential “septic systems.” Reacting to “public” pressure environmental regulators on both the state and county levels took positions on “septic system” installations which were a bit off the books and less restrictive than intended in rule or law. These were the “good-times” and people were under pressure to build, to close escrow, to move in and collectively they exerted great pressure on government regulators and inspectors to fulfill their portion of the equation so owners could move on.
Were shortcuts taken in the inspection and approval process by regulators, were shortcuts taken and covered up by contractors, were owners less than forthcoming with all parties … Yes …
Up for Grabs … This is all water under the bridge, these are actions that cannot be quickly corrected, actions that will have and are having what many feel are unintended consequence especially on the quality of Arizona’s water.
For most people the quality of water can be summed up as how SAFE is it … and that begs the question who establishes the standards, the criteria, the parameters by which your water is declared … SAFE …? It seems logical to envision the ultimate user – i.e., you & me – play a vital role in this process. But, is that the case in Arizona…?
If you find yourself challenged to easily answer this query, it strongly suggests “we” (that’s you & me) likely are NOT provided legitimate opportunity nor encouraged to participate in any dialogue where our water’s SAFETY is a topic…? And quite frankly, skillful application of all the intricacies of Arizona’s Open Meeting Laws easily results in a ruse allowing delivery of deliberately constructed information to the PUBLIC in carefully crafted “legalese” designed to further frustrate PUBLIC participation and limit questions from the PUBLIC.
Man’s ingenuity allowed him to develop and deliver to the world’s economy more than 119,000 chemicals most of which will find or already have found their way into our water supply, whether it be surface or subsurface derived. What is staggering is any deleterious health effect, short or long term, on “life” as a result of these chemicals being a part of our water supply, regardless of amount, remains to this day largely unknown. A handful of some of the more well known chemical derivates include … Chlorine … Fluoride … MTBE … Perchlorate … “fracking” lubricants … municipal and industrial sewage effluent … agricultural runoff … unused pharmaceuticals we flush down the commode and residual personal care products, like cosmetics …
To develop honest consensus generated testing protocols for all of these chemicals and their derivates would be an astronomical undertaking one requiring a prodigious amount time, personnel and funding. That is something those we rely upon to determine SAFE conclude is not anything they are interested in pursuing. And I suspect for very good reason. Such a query would likely reveal even in extremely small residual amounts the effect upon “life” is a sentence of death. So the SAFE game becomes … out of sight, out of mind … what you don’t know, can’t hurt you … ignorance is bliss … it might be timely to consider the implications of the idiom to follow
…We are more often treacherous through weakness than through calculation … Francois De La Rochefoucauld
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