Agriculture, cattle, outdoor recreation prepare for water cutbacks

Water skiing in Parker, Arizona

By Holly Bernstein | Arizona Capitol Times

Some industries depend on water and with a drought going on 20 years in Arizona, they have to adjust. Here is a sampling of what a few water-dependent industries are doing.

The agriculture industry, specifically along the central Arizona territory and in Pinal County, is impacted the most by the drought and will see more direct effects if water levels in Lake Mead and Lake Powell sink to a point in which a shortage is declared.

“Arguably I think that’s the only industry that. . . there’s a likelihood that they will feel an impact,” said Sarah Porter, the director for the Kyl Center for Water Policy.

While a shortage has not yet been declared, Porter said if one is declared, the impact will be mostly felt by county farmers.

Arizona has large cattle feeding operations in Pinal County. These operations rely on the fiber for the animals’ diets, which comes from alfalfa. That alfalfa is grown in central Arizona. According to Arizona Cattle Feeders’ Association Executive Vice President Bas Aja, drought in the Colorado River can impact fiber production.

Aja said the Arizona meat industry can directly use anywhere from 10-20 gallons of water per cow daily.

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