Thanks in part to UArizona’s Water Resources Research Center (WRRC), we know that every Arizona county has a distinct water structure. 

Led by Sharon Megdal, Ph.D., this Extension center and research unit in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is the designated state water resources research center established under the 1964 Federal Water Resources Research Act. The main aim of WRRC is to conduct water policy research and analysis and then report on it, allowing the rest of us to assess the latest as it relates to Arizona’s water issues.

Some of the latest WRRC water research involves going from county to county in our state and breaking out the water structure in each one. One by one, they’ve been rolling out ‘Arizona Fact Sheets’ for each county, the latest was Yuma. So, for example, 88.6% of Yuma’s water is surface water, with the remaining 11.3% being groundwater. Contrast this with Cochise County where 99.7% of its water is groundwater. 

This data alone heralds the need to have local management because the local communities understand their water challenges. 

If it's true that local government, locally-led, means the authority to determine and execute measures within a local community to work to maximize the best outcomes, then locally led by the citizens means the best way forward. 

Says the Brookings Institute, “Policy debates often focus only on major decisions made in Washington, D.C. But for many Americans, the decisions made much closer to home have just as large, if not larger, effects on day-to-day life. In important respects, the United States remains true to its original system of federalism: states and localities play a prominent role in setting policies that affect the economy more broadly.”

And, good data, such as what WRRC provides through its Arizona Fact Sheets allows the local decision-makers to make solid determinations about their water. Of course, local policymakers will need more than fact sheets, but data, collaboration, and compromise will mean success if debated thoroughly and carefully.

Several water bills are winding their way through the legislature this year. Arizona Farm Bureau endorsed SB 1221 sponsored by Senator Sine Kerr. This week, the Arizona Senate holds a final vote on this bill. The bill will enshrine local management and control. Call your legislators and tell them to vote yes