Enormous Symbol Of Water Conservation Campaign On Display In The Executive Tower Lobby

The imposing “Water – Use It Wisely” tower – a 16-foot tall pyramid of one-gallon water jugs – is now on display in the Executive Tower lobby.

The display reflects Governor Ducey’s expressed commitment to water issues during the current legislative session. Those include protecting the Colorado River system, as well as emphasizing the theme of the long-running Water – Use It Wisely campaign, which is to bolster water conservation efforts in Arizona communities.

Constructed from 120 water jugs, the tower represents a physical depiction of the amount of water – 120 gallons – that the average person in Arizona consumes daily.

Typically, that use includes seven gallons consumed either by drinking or cooking, 14 gallons used by shower or bath, 15 gallons by toilets, 18 gallons used up daily by household cleaning such as washing machines or dishwashers, and 66 gallons used daily for outdoor uses such as watering lawns and plants.

The tower will be on display at the Executive Tower at 1700 W. Washington St. through the month of January.

The Water – Use It Wisely campaign is a two-decade partnership among Arizona communities and organizations dedicated to providing Arizonans with meaningful tools for efficiently limiting water waste.

The Arizona Department of Water Resources is a Regional Campaign Steering Committee partner of the campaign.

For further information about the Tower, see:

ADWR Public Information Officer Sally Stewart Lee

sslee@azwater.gov or (602) 771-8530

 

At the Inauguration: Governor Ducey’s comments on securing Arizona’s water future

inauguration day 2019

In delivering his second Inaugural Address, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey told the audience at the State Capitol that the time has come to “press forward on some of the biggest challenges facing us.”

“Because none of us came here to do little things — we came here to do the things that matter, big things — and we can do them together.”

Among those big things the Governor identified was securing the State’s water future. Specifically, Governor Ducey called on lawmakers and stakeholders to take action on protecting the State’s Colorado River water supplies.

“We cannot kick the can any further,” he said.

Governor Ducey’s comments on Arizona water security, in full:

Our duty is to leave this state in far better shape than we found it — and we are well on our way.

These are the tasks before us. And if there’s any question of how Arizonans expect us to solve these problems, I’d say, look around. Taking the oath with me today are Republicans and Democrats – all hired by the same electorate.

When conversations stall, as they sometimes do during difficult discussions, we let history be our guide and the hand that lifts us back up.

Nearly four decades ago, in 1980, Arizona’s accelerated water consumption forced a sobering ultimatum from the federal government: reform or suffer severe water cutbacks.

The can could not be kicked any further.

But Arizona’s history is not one of missed opportunities or efforts that came up short. Rather we find, that in the darkest times, Arizona’s pioneering spirit shines the brightest.

Democrats and Republicans rose above party labels. They brought skeptical and reluctant stakeholders to the table. And they acted – and they did it with good faith and honest intentions.

For the people in this crowd and many across our state, I don’t have to spell out the parallel circumstances in which we find ourselves today.

It’s simple. Arizona and our neighboring states draw more water from the Colorado River than mother nature puts back. And with a critical shortfall imminent, we cannot kick the can any further.

It’s going to mean rising above self-interest, and doing the right thing. It means taking the action our past and future generations demand.

Press Release: Arizona Department of Water Resources conducts “basin sweep” to collect water-level measurements in the Pinal Active Management Area

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PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                CONTACT: Sally Stewart Lee 

Dec. 20, 2018                                                                                          PHONE: 602.771.8530

Arizona Department of Water Resources conducts “basin sweep” to collect water-level measurements in the Pinal Active Management Area

PHOENIX – Beginning the week of December 10, 2018, and continuing approximately through the end of January 2019, the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) will be conducting an extensive effort to measure water levels in wells in the Pinal Active Management Area (AMA).

ADWR staff will attempt to measure water levels at hundreds of wells in the Pinal AMA.  This survey of area wells – or basin “sweep,” as it is known — will be the first such basin survey of the area since 2013. The data collected will be used for several purposes, including:

  • analysis of water-level trends
  • groundwater modeling
  • water-level change maps
  • hydrologic reports and
  • water resource planning and management.

Every year the Department’s hydrologists collect water levels in a statewide network of about 1,600 to 1,800 “index” wells that have typically been measured annually over the last several decades. Also each year, the Department targets at least one area of the State for a more intensive “sweep,” which provides a deeper dive into regional groundwater conditions.

The involvement of well owners in sweeps is entirely voluntary. ADWR greatly appreciates the cooperation of well owners who participate in the well survey.

For more information regarding this matter, please contact Public Information Officer Sally Stewart Lee at sslee@azwater.gov or (602) 771-8530.

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Arizona water coalition declares support for “Implementation Plan” to complete state’s plan for Colorado River delivery shortfalls

The Water for Arizona Coalition, a group comprising Arizonans who support policies and innovative practices to ensure a reliable water supply to meet the state’s needs, has released a statement  of support for the “Implementation Plan” that was unveiled at the November 29 Steering Committee meeting at Central Arizona Project headquarters.

The coalition singled out three tenets of the Implementation Plan that its members consider key:

  • Governor Ducey’s pledge to allocate $30 million in funding for system conservation as a part of the implementation of DCP
  • The readiness of the Walton Family Foundation and Water Funders Initiative to work in partnership with public funders and other stakeholders to fill the $8 million funding gap for system conservation in the Lower Basin
  • The benefits of the proposed mitigation for the Colorado River system and water levels in Lake Mead

The coalition’s complete statement:

11.30.2018 Water for Arizona AZ DCP Statement

 

Targeting charities: ADWR fields straight-shooting team for annual Clay Target Fun Shoot

ADWR SECC Clay Target Group 11.2018

ADWR’s Clay Target Fun Shoot team: (from left) Norman Lew, Mark Perez, Paul Yunker, Jason Mitchell and John Riggins at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in north Phoenix

ADWR employees participated in the 21st Annual State Employees Charitable Campaign Clay Target Fun Shoot held November 5 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in north Phoenix.

Proceeds from the event benefit Special Olympics of Arizona, Wildlife for Tomorrow and the Arizona Elk Society.  Although totals are not yet available this year, in previous years clay-target shoot has been one of the largest single-event fundraisers that the SECC sponsors.

Team members included ADWR employees John Riggins, Mark Perez and Jason Mitchell, as well as Norman Lew of the Department of Economic Security, and Paul Yunker, husband of ADWR’s Dianne Yunker.

Thanks to all the employees who donated their time and effort!

New ADWR “Story Map” Uses High-Tech Imagery To Tell Story Of Willcox Area Land Subsidence

ADWR Story Map image

Since the dawn of modern science – since Copernicus struggled to bring around 16th century skeptics to his evidence of a heliocentric solar system – illustrating complex science to a general audience has proved challenging.

A century or so after Copernicus, Galileo and his famous telescope would (eventually, at least) help illustrate the Polish astronomer’s claim that the earth revolved around the sun, as opposed to the other way around.

Proving, in other words, that images matter. Text is good. Text and way-cool images? Even better.

Following in Galileo’s footsteps, researchers in the Arizona Department of Water Resources’ Hydrology Division have developed one of the department’s most visually appealing presentations ever:

A “story map” depicting land subsidence in the Willcox Groundwater Basin, where ADWR recently completed work on a comprehensive groundwater-flow model.

Focusing on the prevalence of land subsidence in the Willcox Basin, the story map uses interactive imagery as a compliment to textual descriptions of the area’s subsidence issues. Together, they paint (quite literally) a clear picture of the dramatic subsidence issues facing the region.

Produced for ADWR by GIS Application Developer Karen Fisher and Brian Conway, supervisor of the Geophysics/Surveying Unit, the “story map” brings together into a single, user-friendly package a wide assortment of the tools that hydrologists employ to analyze groundwater conditions.

“This story map is the first of hopefully other story maps that combine (geographic information system, or “GIS”) maps, data analysis, images/multimedia content, and a summary of various Water Resources topics in an easy to read format to tell a story,” said Conway.

Fisher said they selected the Willcox Basin as the subject of the story map due to the area “having the highest annual magnitude of land subsidence in Arizona,” as well as “a number of active earth fissures.”

Fisher designed the story map using ArcGIS mapping and analytics software, a product of Esri, a global market leader in GIS.

“Esri has story-map templates that they have been encouraging their users to use,” said Fisher.

“Brian and I both thought of the idea and wanted to highlight land subsidence in hope that it would inspire other groups at ADWR to put their projects into a story map.”

As described by Esri, story maps “are a simple yet powerful way to inform, engage, and inspire people with any story you want to tell that involves maps, places, locations, or geography.”

The web applications, the firm notes, “let authors combine beautiful maps with narrative text, striking images, and multimedia, including video.”

The narrative text is the other beauty of the ADWR land-subsidence story map.

Its text is general-audience friendly – scientifically precise while, at the same time, expressing the complex land-subsidence issues the map depicts clearly enough for a high-school age, would-be hydrologist to appreciate.

In addition to the direct link found above, the story map is available at the ADWR Hydrology eLibrary, which can be found here: https://new.azwater.gov/hydrology/e-library

On-Going Experiment In High-Volume CO River Releases From Glen Canyon Dam Set for November 5

Glen Canyon Dam high flow release photo

Science is all about experimentation, and one of the more spectacular experiments in the movement of Colorado River sediment is set to begin in a matter of days.

Beginning November 5, the Department of Interior will begin a High-Flow Experiment (HFE) release of water out of Glen Canyon Dam, slowly ramping up the volume to 38,100 cubic feet per second, which it will maintain for 60 hours over three days.

The forceful water release is intended to mimic the floods that once drove enormous volumes of sand through the river canyons prior to the construction of Glen Canyon Dam, which rebuilt eroded sandbars downstream.

Those reconstituted, enlarged beaches serve a number of valuable purposes – from providing camping space for river-rafters to creating backwater habitat for native fish populations. The enlarged eddies and pools enhanced by those bigger sandbars also encourage the growth of riparian vegetation that provides habitat for birds and other wildlife.

The upcoming “HFE” release is the first under the newly minted 2016 Record of Decision for the Glen Canyon Dam, which provides a framework for adaptively managing Glen Canyon Dam over the next 20 years. The goal of the “ROD” is to create certainty and predictability for water and power users while protecting environmental and cultural resources in Grand Canyon National Park and the Colorado River ecosystem.

The high-volume water release experiment, meanwhile, is a component of the 1992 Grand Canyon Protection Act, which mandated that Glen Canyon Dam be operated in a manner that protects the values for which Grand Canyon National Park and Glen Canyon Recreational Area were established. The first-ever release was conducted in 1996. Known as the Beach Habitat Building Flow, it was designed to mimic the dynamics of a natural system, including building high-elevation sandbars, depositing nutrients, and restoring backwater channels.

Given its unprecedented mission – imitating the sediment-rich flood conditions of a pre-Glen Canyon Dam river – the HFE releases have been genuinely experimental, adapting and changing as more data were accumulated about their impact.

Release times are scheduled to coincide with the periods that its tributaries – the Paria and Little Colorado rivers – have deposited their largest volumes of sand into the Colorado River.

A lot of concerns factor into the timing of HFE releases. One of the primary concerns is avoiding spreading the seeds of non-native vegetation, such as tamarisk, whose seed production generally occurs between April and September.

The effort to improve habitat for native fish species is a work in progress, too. Early on, researchers found that the intensity of the releases actually worked to expand habitat for non-native trout, which fed on rare native species like the humpback chub.

These discoveries have been the cornerstone of the “adaptive management” strategies adopted by the Department of Interior for the Glen Canyon Dam. The USGS researchers – considered the architects of the HFE — have had to change their strategies of making maximum use of the HFE releases by changing and adapting as new scientific findings improved their understanding of how HFE releases affect the Colorado River ecosystem.

The releases by the Department of Interior are conducted in consultation with the Colorado River Basin States, including Arizona, as well as with Native American tribes, federal and state agencies and with input from Glen Canyon Adaptive Management Program stakeholders.

The Department reports that the HFE releases will not impact the total annual amount of water released from Lake Powell to Lake Mead in water year 2019.

Protecting AZ’s Surface Water & Maintaining Healthy Forests Are, Basically, The Same Thing

CC Cragin Reservoir

The most visually stunning image of the C.C. Cragin Reservoir nestled within the deep canyons of the Mogollon Plateau uplands is that of the dense forests surrounding the picturesque man-made lake.

For the people charged with maintaining the reservoir – now a vital source of water for the city of Payson – the handsome forests are not a pretty sight.

“The threat of wildfire to our forests is real,” said Stephen Flora, a senior hydrologist for the Salt River Project during one of the “Water 101” series of presentations sponsored by the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

SRP manages the C.C. Cragin Reservoir on behalf of Paysonand other Rim communities that expect to rely on the 15,000-acre-foot facility. As recently as May 2018, the “Tinder Fire” burned more than 12,000 woodland acres near the reservoir.

“The area around the C.C. Cragin Reservoir is very overstocked,” said Flora. “The highly dense forest in that area is at very high risk for fire. And that could have a significant effect on our watershed.”

The two phenomenon – forested Arizona mountain watersheds and the mostly winter runoff that provides much of central Arizona’s water supplies – are intrinsically linked.

SRP is a primary water provider for much of central Arizona. As Flora illustrated with his presentation, the majority of SRP’s watershed is covered in dense forest land, which in the course of the lengthy Southwestern drought has become increasingly susceptible to destructive, crown-topping wildfires. Two mega-fires alone – the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski Fire and the 2011 Wallow Fire – consumed nearly 1 million acres of mostly Ponderosa pine forestland.

“The flooding that follows after those wildfires degrades water quality,” explained Flora. “There is significant loss of capacity in reservoirs, which means there is less available water storage.”

Flora noted two big efforts now under way to mitigate the potential for wildfire in critical areas of the eastern mountains of Arizona.

Both efforts involve thinning dense forestland such as that surrounding the C.C. Cragin Reservoir to so-called “pre-Columbian” densities. Forests that prior to the 19th century may have had as few as 30 to 50 pine trees per acre today often have up to 1,000 trees per acre. That tree density saps the moisture from the soil and leaves the dense stands of trees more vulnerable to wildfire.

One of those efforts that Flora described is the Four Forest Restoration Initiative, or “4FRI,” an ambitious forest-restoration project that includes forested lands in the Kaibab, Coconino, Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto national forests.

Including 2.4 million acres overall, 4FRI is considered one of the biggest forest restoration projects ever undertaken in the United States.. While it enjoys wide support, 4FRI has been hampered over the years by technical, environmental and economic challenges.

“Treatment (of the forest) has been very slow,” said Flora.

The other major effort is focused in the 64,000 woodland acres surrounding the C.C. Cragin Reservoir.

The Forest Service announced in September its plans to take action to protect the Payson water supplies with a thinning project anticipated to take five years or more.

“We have a need for larger efforts to reduce the risk of fire,” said Flora.

How Will AZDCP Fit Into The Colorado River Basin Drought Contingency Plan?

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While Arizona water managers and affected stakeholders have been meeting almost daily over the past several months to finalize the state’s Drought Contingency Plan (DCP), plans have been underway on a parallel track for several years to ensure the framework is in place for the entire Colorado River Basin DCP.

Chronic, often severe drought in the Southwest is seriously straining the Colorado River system. With Lake Powell less than half full and Lake Mead below 40 percent of capacity, the seven Colorado River states are preparing to act should Lake Mead continue falling toward critical surface levels. At the same time, some states – including Arizona – are developing drought contingency plans supporting intrastate needs to contend with future Colorado River shortages.

Last week, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released drafts of the Upper Basin DCP and Lower Basin DCP documents. This gives the first glimpse at what will be included in the interstate agreement amongst the Upper Basin and Lower Basin states. These documents contain actions that are in addition to the provisions of the existing system-wide agreement, formally known as the Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and the Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead.

According to the Bureau’s website:

  • The Upper Basin DCP is designed to: a) protect critical elevations at Lake Powell and help assure continued compliance with the 1922 Colorado River Compact, and b) authorize storage of conserved water in the Upper Basin that could help establish the foundation for a Demand Management Program that may be developed in the future.
  • The Lower Basin DCP is designed to: a) require Arizona, California and Nevada to contribute additional water to Lake Mead storage at predetermined elevations, and b) create additional flexibility to incentivize additional voluntary conservation of water to be stored in Lake Mead.

These documents show the interstate framework into which the intrastate (in our case, AZDCP) will fit. AZDCP work continues and we anticipate our intrastate implementation plan and framework will be completed by the end of November, prior to the December Colorado River Water Users Association meeting, at which point the entire plan will come together.

For more information on AZDCP, visit ADWR’s website or CAP’s website.

The Pumpkin speaks: Be afraid, water users… be very afraid

The Arizona Department of Water Resources held its annual “Fall Festival” celebration during the lunch hour on Thursday. Needless to say, a fun time was had by all.  In addition to caramel apples, cider and (the ubiquitous) hot dogs and popcorn, the Department employees held a pumpkin-decorating contest.

The “Most Creative” pumpkin? An absolutely precious offering from water-resources specialist (and, cat lover) Claire Jaramillo:

Basket of Kittens Pumpkin 2018

In addition, Mark Joyner of the Surface Water Rights division created the “Spookiest” pumpkin. For those of us knee-deep in the effort to conclude a Drought Contingency Plan, Mark’s offering was spooky, indeed:

Fall Festival 2018 Scariest Pumpkin

Analysts on the scene calculated that, yes, the amount of water in Mark’s pumpkin was approaching… deadpool.

(Editor’s note: for readers not conversant in DCP-speak, the Bureau of Reclamation calculates a better-than 50-50 chance that water levels at Lake Mead will fall below 1,075 feet by 2020, triggering a Tier 1 shortage declaration. Should the reservoir some day fall below 1,025 feet, it would be entering the most serious shortage tier, Tier 3, and would be approaching levels at which water no longer would flow through the Hoover Dam spillways. Those worst-case-scenario levels – generally believed to be below 900 feet – are known as “deadpool.” Negotiations in Arizona on an in-state Drought Contingency Plan that would mitigate the most dire scenarios are underway.) 

The winners:

2018 Fall Festival pics 2