Continued, diligent water management is vital for Arizona. Fortunately, our unprecedented growth as a region during recent decades has been enabled by prescient water management and planning policies. We expect our water-management organizations and elected leaders will continue to use judicious water policies to drive our communities and economy forward.
One area of high importance to Arizona is the health of Lake Mead, the country’s largest storage reservoir. Central Arizona Project (CAP) and the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) have been collaborating with the federal government, partner states and Mexico to address the reservoir’s falling water level. An extended drought combined with increased water demand is causing the water level of Lake Mead to decline by approximately 12 feet per year, increasing the risk of a declared water shortage, during which Arizona and CAP are affected first.
In addition to supporting a large portion of Arizona’s population, the health of Lake Mead is also tied directly to the current and future success of our economy.
CAP delivery of Colorado River water from 1986 through 2010 generated in excess of $1 trillion ($1,090,000,000,000) of Arizona’s gross state product (GSP) according to a 2014 study commissioned by CAP and the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
The study conducted by ASU’s L. William Seidman Research Institute also highlights the jobs supported by CAP.
- CAP’s supply of water to municipal, industrial and agricultural customers in 2010 is estimated to have generated annual employment of more than 1.6 million jobs.
- Government, health care, retail, real estate and travel sectors would have lost more than 60 percent of these jobs had the CAP water supply been unavailable.
- If the recreational benefits and other impacts associated with the operation and maintenance of the aqueduct system and Lake Pleasant are added to the water supply analysis, statewide economic impacts of the operation of CAP would be even greater.
Several states and organizations are focused on effective future water management in the Southwest United States. CAP, which delivers nearly 500 billion gallons (1.5 million acre-feet) of Colorado River water annually, along with Arizona, Nevada, California and the Bureau of Reclamation are discussing new actions which, if implemented, will provide Arizona increased certainty about the longer-term reliability of the Colorado River.
All Colorado River water users and managers regardless of state, priority, or use sector must continue to work together to avoid the pitfalls of other states while protecting the river and the communities that rely on its water supply.
I encourage business leaders to pursue increased awareness of water issues and support Arizona water utilities and policy makers as they face important decisions about our water future. We can’t grow without water.