An Examination of Arizona Water Law and Policy From the Perspective of Climate Impacts
|An Examination of Arizona Water Law and Policy From the Perspective of Climate Impacts
|Year of Publication
|Carter, R, Morehouse, BJ
|CLIMAS Report Series
|Climate Assessment for the Southwest, University of Arizona
Any assessment of climate impacts on water resources must take into account the legal and institutional structure within which decision making is framed. This document provides a summary of international, federal, state, and local laws and policies that may facilitate or constrain decision making within the context of climate impacts. The evaluation concludes that Arizona has a reasonably well-developed structure for governing water management in the more stringently managed areas of the state. This structure provides a basis for balancing climatic and ecological factors with human stresses, especially rapid population growth, on the state’s environment and natural resource base. However, there is a need to take climate more fully into account in policy making and implementation. Among the greatest needs is to develop a comprehensive drought contingency plan that recognizes the possibility of droughts at least of the magnitude of the decadal-scale drought of the 1950s. The plan should be statewide, but should also take care to address issues of local vulnerability and equity. A sharper emphasis also needs to be placed on public education about not only water management issues, but also about the nature of climate variability in the region and the kinds of impacts on water supply and demand that residents should take into consideration when making and carrying out their plans. Pressures on water management structures and processes are likely to escalate in the future; these pressures will certainly be exacerbated under conditions of climatic stress, particularly deep, extended drought. Climate information, if effectively disseminated and used, has the potential to contribute to effective management decisions.