New Arizona Chamber Foundation policy brief examines groundwater policy

The Arizona Chamber Foundation today released a new brief in its series of whitepapers on Arizona water policy. What Lies Beneath: An Arizona Groundwater Policy Primer, is aimed at policymakers and stakeholders who want to learn more about the public policy history of groundwater, the hydrologic differences between surface water and groundwater, how groundwater in the state is managed, and more about one of the most important and challenging issues facing Arizona. 

Previous Arizona Chamber Foundation water policy briefs have examined the seven-state Drought Contingency Plan, the importance of the Colorado River to Arizona, and the history of water planning and management in the state. 

“I am excited that once again the Arizona Chamber Foundation is contributing to the important and necessary conversation on water stewardship occurring in the state,” Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry President and CEO Danny Seiden said. “An understanding of groundwater’s contribution to Arizona’s economy and quality of life is essential as we seek ways to sustain the state’s economic growth in our arid desert climate and amid ongoing drought conditions. I believe legislators, agency officials, economic developers and leaders who want to build on Arizona’s longstanding reputation for wise water management will find this new paper helpful.” 

As part of its water policy education efforts, the Arizona Chamber Foundation in conjunction with Business for Water Stewardship last year conducted a series of webinars for legislators and the business community on groundwater management and groundwater’s positive effect on the state economy. 

Continuing its focus on groundwater, the new Arizona Chamber Foundation paper gives readers a historical snapshot of notable accomplishments in surface and groundwater management, including passage of the Groundwater Code in 1980, which the Ford Foundation called one of the 10-most innovative programs in state and local government. 

As discussed in the paper, the Code has three primary goals: 1) to control the overdraft of groundwater occurring in areas of substantial depletion; 2) to provide a means to allocate groundwater resources in Active Management Areas to meet changing needs more effectively; and 3) to augment Arizona’s groundwater through development of sustainable supplies. 

“We cannot understate the positive effects passage of the 1980 Groundwater Act has delivered for Arizona,” Seiden said. “More than 40 years ago, Arizona leaders worked diligently to ensure that our most precious natural resource was properly cared for and managed so that our state could continue to thrive economically. That same will to ensure Arizona’s water security for the decades to come remains today, as evidenced by ongoing work by a new generation of legislators in both parties and efforts like the Governor’s Water Augmentation, Innovation, and Conservation Council. I am confident that Arizona leaders will once again tackle this most difficult issue with a spirit of collaboration, cooperation, and a sincere belief that Arizona’s best days are ahead.” 

The Arizona Chamber Foundation in the coming weeks will share the paper with legislators and state and local officials, as well as feature the views of industry leaders and water policy experts in upcoming editions of Chamber Business News.

Joe Pitts

Joe Pitts is a student at Arizona State University and the program director for Business Ballot; executive director for the Arizona Junior Fellows program. You can reach him at [email protected]

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