Category Archives: Water

A Better Future for Phoenix Drives Daniel Valenzuela in Run for Mayor

Phoenix Councilmember and Mayoral Candidate Daniel Valenzuela

In the runoff race to become the next Mayor of Phoenix, former Councilman Daniel Valenzuela has brought on former McCain campaign advisors in an attempt to draw Republican support to make up the 19 point deficit in his second-place finish to former Councilwoman Kate Gallego last November.

Goals and vision for Phoenix

As a council member and potential mayor, Valenzuela sees Phoenix as a great city that he wants to help make greater and more safe, inclusive, and prosperous for the children and next generations to follow. His immediate goals if elected mayor would be expanding educational opportunities, promoting equality and economic progress, and ensuring safe communities and neighborhoods. To accomplish these goals, Councilman Valenzuela would address the public policy arenas described later in the piece.

With popular Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton resigning his office and now serving Arizona’s Ninth Congressional District, a special non-partisan election was held in November to elect his successor. In a four-way race, Gallego received 45 percent of the vote and had a 19-point lead over her closest contender, Councilman Daniel Valenzuela.

The Blog For Arizona profiled both candidates in June and interviewed both on their positions on the issues and their vision for moving Phoenix forward. This piece describes Councilmember Valenzuela’s goals and vision for the fifth largest city in the country.

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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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As Mayor, Kate Gallego will Make “Make Phoenix a City that Will Work for Everyone”

Phoenix Mayoral Candidate Councilwoman Kate Gallego

In a runoff race for Phoenix Mayor, candidate Kate Gallego, a former Phoenix Councilwoman, appears to be leading her opponent Daniel Valenzuela, another former member of the Phoenix City Council.

With popular Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton resigning his office and now serving Arizona’s Ninth Congressional District, a special non-partisan election was held in November to elect his successor. In a four-way race, Gallego received 45 percent of the vote and had a 19-point lead over her closest contender, Councilman Daniel Valenzuela. Commentators at the Arizona Republic feel that Councilwoman Gallego, with her energized and devoted base, has the turnout advantage right now going into the March 12, 2019 election.

The Blog For Arizona profiled both candidates in June and interviewed both on their positions in and their vision for moving Phoenix forward. Over the last week, we contacted both campaigns for an update.  This piece describes Councilwoman’s  Gallego’s goals and vision for the fifth largest city in the country.

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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

“There have been dramatic declines in Lake Mead. There is no reason to believe that it’s going to recover to where it was,” says Andrew Greenhill of Tucson Water.

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 by 12%, according to Andrew Greenhill, the Intergovernmental Affairs Manage for Tucson Water.

“This will mean the per unit costs of water will go up,” Greenhill said at a recent meeting of Sustainable Tucson. Lake Mead is now at 1,080 feet, a record low. A shortage will be declared when it drops to 1,075 feet. The water level has dropped from a high of 1,214 feet in 2000, and the population keeps growing.

The price hike can come as soon as August when the Bureau of Reclamation projects the 2020 level of the lake. The federal government operates Lake Mead and the US Secretary of the Interior is the river master.

Tucson conserves

Tucson gets an allocation of 144,000 acre-feet of water, but the city uses only 100,000, thanks to conservation initiatives. Tucson also has a secondary pipe system — one for drinkable water, and the second one with reclaimed water for golf courses and school athletic fields.

Lake Meade is only 37% full. As its level drops, Arizona's water supply will be cut.

Lake Mead is only 37% full. As its level drops, Arizona’s water supply will be cut.

Tucson also stores water in the Avra Valley near Marana, “so we’re building up our water savings account. We have every incentive to conserve,” Greenhill said.

The top priorities for lake water are the Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal, municipalities, industries and tribal areas. Agriculture is at the bottom of the list.

This means that Pinal County farmers of cotton, hay, sorghum, millet, corn will get cut first. Under current plans, farmers will be weaned off CAP supplies and will have to start drilling wells at a cost of $50 million.

The state legislature has ditherd on a drought contingency plan and must approve one in 17 days. Brenda Burman, the federal Bureau of Reclamation commissioner, threatened in December to take over some crucial Colorado River management decisions if Arizona doesn’t quickly approve drought plans.

Water harvesting expert Dan Stormont described rainwater harvesting, greywater harvesting, and water conservation features at the Living Lab.

Learn to conserve

The Sustainable Tucson event was held at the Watershed Management Group Living Lab at 1137 N Dodge Blvd., just north of Speedway. It is a non-profit dedicated to conserving water.

Dan Stormont, a certified water harvesting professional and Green Living Co-op Manager, gave a tour at the solar-powered, water-conserving lab. He pointed out a huge plastic water tank designed to hold water for non-native plants and landscaping. Tucson offers a rebate of up to $2,000 for installing water harvesting tanks.

The lab grounds have two buildings that draw drinking water from a 10,000 gallon underground cistern, which filters rainwater to eliminate grit and uses UV lights to kill bacteria.

Stormont said that the #1 use of water in a household is the toilet. The lab has no plumbed toilet and uses a composting toilet, which after six months produces high-quality compost for trees. The grounds are carefully landscaped with a series of sloped patios and catch basins. A washing machine, using no-salt Oasis biocompatible soap, produces greywater for watering plants.

He said Tucson is in the Santa Cruz River watershed. The river has run dry because drilling and water wells pushed the water table to 300 feet underground. The Watershed Management Group hopes one day to make the river flow with water.