The University of Arizona


Statewide Water Experts Meet Tuesday at UA
Friday, January 20, 2012
University Communications

The Water Resources Research Center and ASU's Morrison Institute will discuss Arizona's future water issues and growth during a daylong symposium.

Where is Arizona headed in its next 100 years? More specifically, as our state celebrates its centennial year, what is the future of water policy in terms of supply and demand for Arizona's second century?

Top experts will thoroughly address that question Jan. 24 in Tucson at a statewide conference, "Urbanization, Uncertainty and Water: Planning for Arizona's Second Hundred Years."

The full-day conference, organized by the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center, or WRRC, in collaboration with the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University, will offer information, scenarios, insight and guidance.

The full-day conference, to be held in the UA Student Union Memorial Center, will build on three recently released reports:

  • "Watering the Sun Corridor," a report released in September by the Morrison Institute focusing on the huge urban corridor that will run through central and southeastern Arizona, requiring a large, reliable supply of water for perhaps 8 million people.
  • "Arizona at the Crossroads," a report by the Grand Canyon Institute that looks at the issue from an economic perspective including conservation, maximizing the reuse of treated wastewater and legislative action to allow markets to buy and sell water.
  • The Arizona Water Resources Development Commission Final Report, which provides an in-depth look at water supply and demand across the state with a goal of identifying needs for additional institutional mechanisms and/or infrastructure for water supply in underserved areas.

Lead authors of all three reports will join a varied roster of experts from all regions, perspectives and interests at the conference. Details, links to the reports and the conference's full lineup can be found online.  

"I am aware of no other opportunity for this sort of dialogue," said Sharon Megdal, director of the WRRC. "We have assembled an exciting group of speakers and panelists, who, along with those in attendance, will influence our state's water policy."

Grady Gammage Jr., a senior fellow at Morrison Institute and chief author of the "Watering the Sun Corridor" report, has received national attention lately in defending Arizona's water future against those who believe our arid state is unsustainable.

"We need to shift the discussion away from whether the Sun Corridor is going to run out of water to how can we make more intelligent decisions about water in Arizona, the U.S. and everywhere else," Gammage said.

Karen Smith, who wrote the Grand Canyon Institute report, said water should be viewed as any other commodity. "Water should be considered an economic good and allowed to find its highest value among competing demands without sacrificing fairness," she said.

Water Resources Development Commission co-chairman David Brown also will discuss details of his agency's report.

Those interested in more detailed policy discussions on the Sun Corridor report can participate in a pre-conference workshop on Jan. 23 sponsored by the Sonoran Institute and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

In attendance will be elected officials, policy makers, their staff, educators, community and business leaders, and engaged individuals from throughout Arizona.

In addition to panels and presentations, attendees will participate in question-and-answer segments following certain sessions in keeping with the theme for open dialogue and frank discussion of major issues related to water policy in Arizona.