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[COLUMN] Time for Legislature to take groundwater decline seriously

Posted by   /  December 23, 2018  /  No Comments

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CAP water shortage affecting Pinal County- Cantaloupe fields like this one in Maricopa would be irrigated with groundwater under a state plan./ Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star

 

By Tim Steller | Arizona Daily Star

(Editor’s note: Opinion pieces are published for discussions purposes only.)

Negotiatorshave moved painstakingly as they reached a fragile agreement to preserve our water supply from the Colorado River.

But that same deal protecting water supplies to the urban areas of Arizona also exacerbates an even more protracted problem — overdrawing Arizona’s groundwater, especially in rural areas.

To preserve water supplies for Pinal County farmers, the deal weans them off Colorado River water supplied by the Central Arizona Project and returns them to relying on groundwater alone by 2026. The deal, if approved, would help them stick longer straws into the ever-lower aquifer, so they stop using the river water that cities like Tucson and Phoenix depend on.

That change, of course, is unsustainable. Pinal County has already suffered subsidence and long cracks in the earth due to sucking up too much groundwater.

But the problem isn’t just Pinal County — it’s expanding desert agriculture in combination with booming population.

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