Herb Guenther: Beloved Former Director of ADWR Passes Away

Herb Guenther, a former director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, passed away on December 17
December 22, 2021


Beloved by longtime staff, Herb Guenther shares anecdotes with staff at an ADWR social event

Herb Guenther, a career-long advocate for Arizona’s water resources and a former director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, passed away on December 17 in Castle Rock, Colo.

Throughout his long career as a public servant, Herb stood out as a passionate defender of his state’s most valuable resource.

The Arizona Capitol Times presented its Lifetime Achievement award in 2013 to Herb as a Leader of the Year in Public Policy. In its acknowledgment, the Capitol Times noted that Herb “has spent more than four decades working on water issues in Arizona,” and observed that “during his career, he has tackled natural resources issues from the federal, state and local levels.”

“Guenther, who eschews seeing issues through a partisan lens, keeps his public policy focus on solving problems for the state and its residents as a whole. Looking back on his career, he hangs his hat on successful legislation associated with inter-state water transfers, intra-state water transfers, streambed ownership and the seven-state 2007 Colorado River Operational Guidelines Agreement.”

Herb served as director of ADWR from January 2003 until January 2011. A video of Herb describing the Department’s mission can be found below.

“Herb was a true statesman and a genuine visionary in Arizona water policy,” said ADWR Director Tom Buschatzke. “And he was beloved among our longtime staff. Herb recognized the need for action to protect the State’s interest in the Colorado River system long before many others. And he understood the vital role this Department plays in protecting it.”

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Herb served as a member of the House of Representatives representing District 5 from 1987 to 1993, and in the state Senate from 1999 to 2003. He also served five years as a Commissioner for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

In addition, Herb worked for 10 years with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and for 22 years with the Wellton Mohawk Irrigation and Drainage District.

Andy Tobin, the Director of the Arizona Department of Administration, recalled that Herb was “Always about Arizona and he was always about his beloved Yuma.

“Having Herb Guenther in public service gave us all a good example to strive toward,” he said. “And the people of Arizona could rest assured that Herb was there looking after the public interest.”

In accepting his Lifetime Achievement award in 2013, Herb told the Capitol Times that he has always felt that one of his greatest achievements was in passing knowledge along to the next generation:

“Working with the Arizona Legislature on proposed water legislation and speaking to young leadership groups to share my experience dealing with Western water and natural resources."