The scoops on water keep on coming

The scoops on water keep on coming
Published
September 24, 2020

As everyone knows, the pandemic has put the world out of sorts.

Once upon a time, old-school hockey fans were stupefied that the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup playoffs dragged out into early June. In 2020, the Finals are on-going in late September.

Calendared events seem to have piled up onto each other like storm debris at the bend of the river. All happening in the same place, at the same time. And the pile keeps getting higher.

So it was with the Arizona Capitol Times’ semi-annual “Morning Scoop” panel discussion on water issues facing the state. A standing-room-only breakfast event prior to COVID-19, this spring’s version of the Morning Scoop was transformed into a virtual meeting (like nearly everything else) and pushed back on the calendar until July 21.

That caused the “spring” Morning Scoop to precede the fall version – conducted, again, by webinar on Sept. 22 -- by just two months.

The Capitol Times is an independent publication covering Arizona political issues, especially those arising at the State Capitol.

Panelists participating in Tuesday’s Morning Scoop Tom Buschatzke, Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources; Ted Cooke, general manager of the Central Arizona Project; Troy Day of EPCOR USA water-distribution management firm; and, Bruce Hallin, director of water supply for Salt River Project.

In addition, Lisa Atkins, chair of the board of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, introduced recently elected members of the CAWCD board, including new board members Marie Pearthree of Pima County and Steve Miller of Pinal County. The newly appointed members replace Sharon Megdal of Pima County and Jim Hartdegen of Pima County, who did not run for re-election.

CAP GM Cooke kicked off the panel discussion with an update of Bureau of Reclamation determinations of storage volumes in the vital Colorado River system, as well as projections of Colorado River water deliveries for the coming water year. Cooke noted that between Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the system currently stored 29.4 million acre-feet of water, representing 49 percent of capacity. That last figure is down four percent from last year.

Director Buschatzke observed that “there is 40 feet or so of conserved water in Lake Mead since 2014. So, the Drought Contingency Plan is effective by incentivizing that water staying in the lake.”“Without those 40 feet, the numbers that Ted just described would be a lot worse,” he said. “The DCP is working the way we had hoped and intended it to do so.”

Director Buschatzke also summarized the recent meeting of the Arizona Reconsultation Committee, as well as the recent letter sent by six of the seven Colorado River states to the Secretary of the Interior regarding the proposed Lake Powell pipeline. He also provided an update of bi-national progress on potential desalination opportunities for the U.S. and the Republic of Mexico.

The entire program – “Morning Scoop: Water Conservation, Augmentation and Infrastructure” – can be found below.

Morning Scoop: Water Conservation, Augmentation and Infrastructure