The Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) has published a new report entitled Arizona’s Next Century: A Strategic Vision for Water Supply Sustainability (2014). This ambitious report examines the historical and future management of water supplies and demands in Arizona and 22 planning areas within the state. It concludes that Arizona faces a water supply deficit of approximately 900,000 acre-feet in the next 25 to 50 years, which is a significant gap to close.
It is widely agreed that a growing population and economy, combined with current drought conditions and increasing understanding of long-term climate variability, create an urgent need to develop new water supplies in the US. This is especially true in Texas and California, two states where I focus much of my attention. One type of project that always seems to be misunderstood and maligned, however, is interbasin water transfers.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas has published an article on potential impacts to the Texas economy from water shortages, aptly named Water Scarcity a Potential Drain on the Texas Economy. Texas is experiencing record dry conditions, which is likely to combine with increasing water demands from growing urban areas to create a potentially volatile situation for future water supplies.
Yesterday, the California State Water Resources Control Board issued a Notice of Surface Water Shortage for 2013 addressed to all “Diverters of Surface Water and Interested Persons.” In it, the SWRCB reported on the record dry and warm conditions facing the state during the past two years. The SWRCB reminded water diverters that the California water rights system allocates water in order of chronological priority, and that water shortages could lead to restrictions on the exercise of some water rights in late summer and fall of 2013. The letter included a list of suggested actions for diverters whose water rights are curtailed, such as controlling conveyance losses, improving coordination with other local diverters, conserving water and using alternative water supplies.
In October 2011, I wrote in American Water Intelligence about the decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Tarrant Regional Water District v. Hermann. Last week the US Supreme Court granted certiorari and will hear the case this session. My article from October 2011 is below for background. The case presents an interesting dispute regarding transboundary water management.