Monday July 24, 2023


While temperatures push well above 100 degrees, it’s easy to forget that Arizona’s deserts lie on top of groundwater basins that formed during the Ice Age.

The state’s rural communities rely on that water, which experts say is a finite resource. But in most cases, it’s not regulated in any meaningful way. That lack of regulation has begun to show, as wells dry up and local residents call for action.

But the same political roadblocks that have long existed at the state Capitol are still in place.

More than four decades ago, Arizona attempted to pass a statewide groundwater law. Resistance from rural stakeholders forced the state to settle for a law that focused only on urban areas. Policymakers assumed that a law for rural communities would come later. It never did.

“Eighty percent of the state’s land area is essentially unprotected, unmanaged when it comes to its groundwater supplies,” said Haley Paul, of Audubon Southwest.

Out-of-state agriculture companies have noticed the lack of regulation, and they’ve come to set up shop in Arizona. Water tables have begun to fall.

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