CWAG writes a monthly Op-Ed column in the Prescott Courier. Here’s the full archive.

OP-ED COLUMNS Files

2017-10-07 4 things you can do about Deep Well Ranch, AED

With the prospect of thousands of additional residents in Prescott’s future, CWAG is concerned about further overextending our water supply. You should be, too. Public input is helping to improve the Deep Well Master Plan and can help shape the Arizona Eco  development. Read this article to learn the water facts about both developments and what you can do.

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published October 7, 2017.

2017-09-02 Whatever happened to safe yield

In 2007 the Citizen’s Water Advocacy Group (CWAG) board of directors approved this position about the future formation of a regional water district: “CWAG encourages the development of a district or districts in order to help reach safe yield in the Prescott Active Management Area and to preserve the flow of the Upper Verde River.”

It is now 2017 and there is not yet a “jurisdictional” authority working to achieve safe yield. Demand for groundwater continues to increase. The year 2025 looms. It is time for the Coalition to initiate the actions that will result in the creation of a jurisdictional organization that can find a solution for the safe yield problem. 

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published September 2, 2017.

2017-07-28 Candidates should know 5 essential water facts

With so much attention focused on Prescott’s Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS) debt in the approaching Prescott City Council election, it’s easy to forget the new council will be setting critical water policy during their time in office.

Over the next four years, city staff will provide council with information and advice on technical issues, but council members make all final decisions on water policy. To do that competently, they must know some essential facts. 

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published July 28, 2017.

2017-05-12 Environmental Water Rights Need Representation

Arizona’s water laws need to be modernized in consultation with cities, industry, agriculture, and environmental organizations. We should strive to simplify water law, address rural Arizona’s water issues, integrate the best available science, and emphasize conservation, reuse, and the environment. It is time for both our leadership and everyday people to rise to the challenge. 

 

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published May 12, 2017.

2017-07-05 Water policy for new development a first step

Recently, the Prescott City Council amended its Water Management and Calendar Year 2017 Alternative Water Allocation Policy (www.prescott-az.gov/services/water/resources.php). Among other changes, the policy allows greater housing density for certain new subdivisions if the new homes are constructed to meet the EPA WaterSense water conservation standards.

The Citizens Water Advocacy Group (CWAG) supports water conservation for new development. However, because the WaterSense standards appear to have been developed for non-arid climates, they don’t adequately emphasize the potential impact of conservation of water for landscaping purposes. While the City has initiated an important step in promoting greater water conservation for new construction, even more attention should be placed on supplementing WaterSense standards with additional standards that reflect Prescott’s water situation. 

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published July 5, 2017.

04-05-17 Prescott pumping water residents need to save it

The Prescott area is pumping water from the Little Chino aquifer about four times as fast as it is being replenished. The impact of this overdraft includes declining water levels in the aquifer and wells drying up in the western part of Chino Valley.

Some people claim that a pipeline to bring groundwater from the Big Chino aquifer up north at the headwaters of the upper Verde River will solve our water problems. However, the cost will be enormous and pumping will reduce the flow of the Verde unless we spend millions more to mitigate the impact. The U.S. Geological Survey computer model shows that this groundwater pumping will result in dry sections of the river and impair water rights held by downstream users.

Conservation can play a major role in achieving a sustainable water supply, especially by using less water outdoors. Homeowners can use captured rainwater and attractive drought-tolerant plants to save both water and money. 

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published April 5, 2017.

03-04-17 Pathways to water resources sustainability

Limited water resources and our dry climate in the American Southwest challenge us to apply new approaches along with traditional strategies to meet both human and environmental water demands. Such water management methods incorporating the interdependence of society and the natural environment are slowly emerging through scientific, legal, economic, social and political pathways. Will such practices be adopted and effective to ensure that future water security in our region is comprehensive and resilient? 

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published March 4, 2017.

02-04-17 Water and Population

During conversations with the public, the Citizens Water Advocacy Group (CWAG) frequently hears opposing opinions about our position on population growth: either that we “are ‘no-growthers’ trying to lock a gate across the highway into town” or that we are blind to the threat of growth and that we should lock the gate. 

We aren’t no-growth and we aren’t blind. Our official position states our goal: achieve a sustainable water supply – CWAG neither favors nor opposes growth. CWAG recognizes that growth is intimately connected to water, energy, and resource use. Managing that connectedness is complicated, but local government needs to do a better job.

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published February 4, 2017.

12-01-16 Can We Resolve Rural Water Issues?

Sharp on the heels of one of the most divisive presidential elections in recent history comes more provocative news; this time, not for the country but for the county. The issue? Arizona’s most contentious one – water.

Yavapai County Supervisors Craig Brown, Dist. 4, and Tom Thurman, Dist. 2, were featured speakers at the Nov. 12 meeting of the Citizens Water Advocacy Group (CWAG) where they expressed their frustration and concern over managing water at the county level. 

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published December 1, 2016.

11-01-16 Water, Politics and Water Politics

Here in Arizona, a new “land rush” has begun in rural areas with the express intent of gaining access to aquifers virtually unregulated by Arizona state water law. Farmers from drought-stricken areas of California, outside investors and even corporations from Saudi Arabia are purchasing large tracts of land in rural counties to grow water intensive crops, often for international export. Counties that have already been impacted include Mohave, Cochise and La Paz. Could Yavapai County be next? 

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published November 1, 2016.

09-29-16 The Water Game

Over the next few years, our elected officials will be discussing and voting on some very significant water issues that will affect every Prescott citizen, as well as everyone living in the Quad-Cities.

Among these are the Big Chino pipeline, planning and zoning ordinances aimed at limiting outdoor water use, residential and commercial water conservation policy, and a basin-wide sustainable water management plan.

The Citizens Water Advocacy Group (CWAG) believes citizens must be “at the table” when decisions about our future water supply are made so that the availability and cost of our water will not be defined solely by influential groups like developers, agriculture and the business sector. 

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published September 29, 2016.

09-02-16 Ten Reasons to Protect the Verde

The Verde River is a green artery pulsing through the heart of Arizona, a jewel of the Southwest, continuously flowing over 170 miles from Paulden to the Salt River near Scottsdale. 

The upper Verde, tucked away deep within the Prescott National Forest between Paulden and Clarkdale, is remote, unknown, underappreciated, and threatened. The upper Verde’s future is clouded by unmitigated groundwater pumping in the Big Chino Valley, which will eventually convert 25 miles of a living river into a dead, dry wash.

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published September 2, 2016.

07-26-16 Groundwater Regulation: The Next Big Thing

There is a clear and urgent need for new groundwater regulations in rural Arizona. 

Because 87 percent of Arizona’s land area is not managed by the Arizona Groundwater Management Act, groundwater in unregulated aquifers (including the Big Chino) can be pumped by landowners subject to only two simple criteria: the water must be for “beneficial and reasonable use.”    

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published July 26, 2016.

07-14-16 Water More Precious Than Diamonds

Economists have long used the “diamond-water paradox” to illustrate the relative “value” of things. While water is essential to life and diamonds are comparatively less useful, water has often been valued far less because its supply has seemed to be almost unlimited. That era is now coming to an end. 

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published July 14, 2016.

05-03-16 Save Water Outdoors

Conservation can play a major role in achieving a sustainable water supply. This column shows simple steps homeowners can take to use captured rainwater and attractive drought-tolerant plants to save both water and money. 

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published May 3, 2016.

04-01-16 April is Water Awareness Month

The Citizens Water Advocacy Group (CWAG) would like to dedicate this month’s column to a short list of current and important regional water issues to make sure we are all aware of the challenges and choices ahead, as well as the opportunities for citizen advocacy and action.

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published April 1, 2016.

03-04-16 Cleaning Up Granite Creek Pollution

Here in semiarid central Arizona, we are graced by the relative abundance of surface water. Depending on how you count them, the Prescott area has nine named creeks and four reservoirs within the Upper Granite Creek Watershed. These often clear-looking surface waters are a local destination for many. Looks, though, can be deceiving. That seemingly crystal-clear water is polluted. Working together is the only way we can change this.

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published March 4, 2016.

02-13-16 2016's Water Issues

In 2016, Prescott and our region continue to face serious challenges when it comes to our limited water supply, but there are at least some solutions that the Citizens Water Advocacy Group (CWAG) believes should be considered by our elected officials.

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published February 13, 2016.

01-08-16 Will vegetation management boost our water supply?

 Vegetation management (thinning) has gotten a lot of press lately. Historically, thinning has been a tool to reduce the threat of uncontrollable, damaging wildfires. However, the Upper Verde River Watershed Protection Coalition (Coalition) now proposes thinning as a technique to increase the fraction of precipitation that recharges our aquifers. Is this expensive activity worth considering? 

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published January 8, 2016.

10-31-15 Deep Well Ranch and water use

 

 In her Oct. 5 [2015] column about the City's proposed annexation of the Deep Well Ranch, Catherine Sebold, Communications and Public Affairs Manager for the City of Prescott, purported to correct statements in a Sept. 25 column by Leslie Hoy of the Citizens Water Advocacy Group (CWAG). The City's column incorrectly suggested that CWAG opposes the annexation or believes that the annexation will use more water than if development occurred under County zoning.

 

 

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published October 31, 2015.

09-25-15 Water and the Deep Well Ranch annexation

 

An annexation of 1,625 acres initiated by the City of Prescott is now underway. The land  under proposal is part of the James family's Deep Well Ranch. In this column, we address some water aspects of the proposed annexation. 

 

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published September 25, 2015.

09-04-15 Time for a regional water district?

 

 Is it possible that competing economic priorities and disagreements about the most effective water management strategies have created a situation in which PrAMA decision-makers simply cannot agree on a unified plan for reaching safe yield and creating long-term water sustainability?


Could a regional water district do what the PrAMA communities apparently cannot do? Or is a water district just another layer of government with its own political, structural and legal decision-making limitations?

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published September 4, 2015.

07-17-15 Candidates should know essential water facts

 

 

Over the next four years, city staff will provide council with information and advice on technical issues, but council members make all final decisions on water policy. To do that competently, they must know some essential facts.

 

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published July 17, 2015.

06-22-15 Water conservation: choice or necessity?

 

 Now that the numbers have been crunched and everyone has looked at the staggering cost of building any pipeline, there is renewed interest in emphasizing the importance of water conservation in an effort to at least add years – perhaps decades – to the calendar before we (might) have to import water.

 

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published June 22, 2015.

05-08-15 Can technology save us?

 

 

Since 1863, Prescott has repeatedly outgrown its water supply. Each water shortage has been “solved” in the same way: by getting water from somewhere else. Now, area cities plan to import water from the Big Chino Valley at monumental expense, while posing an unacceptable threat to the flowing Verde River. The historical solution has run dry. There is no more “somewhere else.” We need a new idea.

 

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published May 8, 2015.

03-30-15 Is desalination solution to water woes?

 

In recent years, the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) has pointed to desalination as a possible solution to the state’s water needs.  There are, however, questions concerning its viability, particularly for the Prescott region with transfer of water rights likely a necessary component.

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Daily Courier, published March 30, 2015.

03-06-15 Big Chino needs less talk, more action

 

 

For decades, thirsty local communities have dreamed of harvesting groundwater from the Big Chino Valley. The Arizona Legislature satisfied their dreams, disregarding concerns that the Verde River would be diminished, thus launching both litigation and dozens of studies. Results have trickled out over the years, which makes it difficult to keep it all in perspective. This column is a summary and evaluation of the Big Chino/Verde River issue as it now stands.

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Verde Independent, published March 6, 2015.

02-03-15 Predictions of groundwater and river declines

 

Future water shortages in the southwestern U.S. have been a recent topic for discussion in the national news. Locally, Prescott and Prescott Valley are planning for the importation of groundwater from an area 30 miles to the north known as the Big Chino sub-basin (BC). Currently Prescott gets almost all of its water from wells located in Chino Valley (Little Chino sub-basin), where we are pumping far more than is sustainable. As our region continues to grow, the availability of water from the Chino Valley well field will decrease and the overdraft will grow.

Importing groundwater from the BC via an expensive pipeline could provide a short-term solution to a future water shortage, but we should ask about the long-term consequences of taking groundwater from one basin and transporting it to another. These consequences would include lowering the groundwater level in the BC, and decreasing the baseflow of the upper Verde River (baseflow is the groundwater- supplied component of streamflow). 

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Prescott Daily Courier, published February 3, 2015.

12-27-14 2015's water issues

Media coverage of water issues in the Western states has suddenly become thorough, detailed and persistent. The message: although the water problems facing the West are daunting, much can be done if decision-makers agree to make water planning a top priority in 2015.

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Prescott Daily Courier, published December 27, 2014.

10-25-14 Officials should evaluate water alternatives

Citizens deserve a sustainable water future, including protection of our environment. Our officials need to come together and thoroughly evaluate and publicly discuss the alternatives described in the CYHWRMS report, including the effect of a no-action alternative. They then need to determine which, if any, alternatives should be further evaluated in a BOR Feasibility Level Study.

To learn more, view a pdf of CWAG's monthly column in the Prescott Daily Courier, published October 25, 2014.

DAILY DROPLET

  • "Ranchers need clean water for their stock, farmers need it for their crops, every employer needs it to stay in business, and every living thing needs it for life... The law needs to be clear to protect water quality and the rights of landowners."
    Mark Udall
  • "Water is the driver of Nature."
    Leonardo da Vinci
  • "When the well is dry, we know the worth of water."
    Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1746
  • "...and since flow of information is to spirit what water is to life, we'd best think about how to keep the pipes free and unclogged."
    Raphie Frank
  • "In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind even to his most essential needs for survival, water along with other resources has become the victim of his indifference."
    Rachel Carson
  • "We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one."
    Jacques Yves Cousteau
  • "Water is life's matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water."
    Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, 1937 Nobel Prize for Medicine
  • "Water is everywhere and in all living things; we cannot be separated from water. No water, no life. Period..."
    Robert Fulghum
  • "It's the water. Everything is driven by the water."
    Mike Thompson
  • "Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over."
    Mark Twain