Arizona legislature’s first order of business: a Drought Contingency Plan

There is an old adage in the American West, “Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over.”

The Arizona legislature has until January 31 to enact a drought contingency plan for the allocation of Colorado River water in the event a drought emergency is declared, which is expected to occur in 2020. If the legislature misses the deadline, it will result in the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation launching a legal process that would likely trigger a formal, federal management takeover of the Colorado River.

The Drought Situation

The American West has been in a drought for the past 19 years with no end in sight. In fact, researchers say “the Southwest may currently be enduring its first mega-drought in more than 500 years, and it could be one of the most severe in history, new research from Columbia University suggests.” The Southwest Might Be in One of the Worst Mega-Droughts in History, Experts Say:

“The last 19 years have been equivalent to the worst 19 years of the worst mega-droughts on record,” Park Williams of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory told The Atlantic. The current drought is topped by only mega-droughts in the late-800s, mid-1100s and late-1500s.

(Photo of the Lake Meade “bathtub ring”).

While there isn’t an exact definition for what constitutes a mega-drought, climate scientists Jonathan Overpeck and Connie Woodhouse minted the classification in an American Meteorological Society journal entry which claims only droughts that lasted two decades or longer could be added to the ranking.

The brutal drought in the Southwest started around 2000, putting it on the brink of becoming a mega-drought.

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New Progressive Enthusiasm and Energy at Arizona’s State Capital

Democratic Lawmakers rally at the Capital Rose Garden on the first day of the Legislative Session. Photo courtesy of Lynsey Robinson, Second Vice Chair of the Maricopa County Democratic Party.

There is a new Progressive Enthusiasm and Energy at Arizona’s State Capital

It can be seen in the hallways where people crowded the Democratic offices of the House joyfully discussing the legislative prospects for 2019.

It could be seen with the female Democratic legislators wearing white to honor the suffragette movement of 100 years ago.

It could be seen in the early morning rallies with progressive organizations and legislative leaders passionately expressing hope for their ideas and proposals for the New Year.

It could be seen on the House Floor where the parties are at their closest margins since 1966 and some state offices (Education and Secretary of State) were held once again by Democrats.

Democrats, encouraged by the 2018 elections, are ready to shape the legislative agenda and propel the state in a forward direction. Thanks to the gracious invitation of Legislative District 18 (where the author is also a PC) State Representative Mitzi Epstein, this writer was able to witness the events of the day including Governor Ducey’s State of the State Address.

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Water Price Increase Coming as Drought Persists

Arizona homeowners can expect their water bills to go up this year as a 19-year drought continues to dry up Lake Mead, the state’s primary source of water. If Lake Mead in Nevada drops by 5 feet, the US Bureau of Reclamation will declare “Tier 1” water shortage. This will cut Arizona’s share of the water … Read more

Senator Steve Farley is Running for Mayor of Tucson to Protect the City

Steve Farley came to Tucson 25 years ago and has represented the city in the state legislature for 12 years.
Steve Farley came to Tucson 25 years ago and has represented the city in the state legislature for 12 years.

Veteran state legislator Steve Farley announced today that he is running for Mayor of Tucson, so that he can protect the city from attacks by the Trump administration and the state Legislature. He pledged to create a construction job training program for young people, to fight climate change and to protect migrant and asylum-seekers.

He was surprised by the retirement of Mayor Jonathan Rothschild after 8 years in office. “I realized that the experience I could bring to serve the city I would be amazing,” he said in an interview with the Blog for Arizona. “I chose Tucson for my home 25 years ago and it is a dream to be able to serve the city I love.”

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Saudis Buy Huge Arizona Farmland After Sucking their own Aquifers Dry

Fifteen years ago, the Saudi government told its farmers to grow wheat and paid them 5 times the market price to do so. In a county without a single lake or river, they told farmers to drill as deep as they wanted for water.

Flash forward to 2011: the aquifers were sucked dry. Totally depleted. Bone dry in a country with scant rainfall. What did they do next? The Saudi dairy Almarai came to western Arizona and bought 15 square miles of farmland. They are sucking our aquifers dry by planting alfalfa for export, which requires 4 times more irrigation than wheat.

This is how climate change is bringing competition for water to Arizona, according to a new book, This Is the Way the World Ends: How Droughts and Die-offs, Heat Waves and Hurricanes Are Converging on America. Author Jeff Nesbit says, “This $47.5 million transaction is an example of the Saudi’s efforts to ensure the country’s dairy business as well as conserving the nation’s resources.”

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