Editorial: Let’s call the water issue what it is - a crisis

It’s simple: Our demand for water is out-pacing our supply of water.

It’s simple: Our demand for water is out-pacing our supply of water.

I’ve lived in Arizona for more than four years now and I still can’t figure out how things work.

A stunning number of elections are won in the primary. This baffles me.

The real speed limit is 10 to 20 mph over the posted speed limit. I bet a good lawyer could beat any speeding ticket by calling the officer’s actions arbitrary and capricious.

The wettest months of the year are also the driest months of the year.

And on the subject of wet and dry, the state in its desire to attract business decided it didn’t need to regulate water except for a few places down in the Phoenix Valley.

As a result, industrial farm operations have opened in Mohave and La Paz and Cochise counties over the past two years. The farms in Mohave County use as much water as do all of the county’s 200,000 or so residents – and residents all by themselves use more water than the Hualapai Basin recharges each year – even without help from the farms.

If this sounds as alarming as a tornado siren, it’s because it is, but nobody in authority wants to take real action beyond giving lip service.

The state has taken notice, but there’s no sense of urgency. If I were in charge, I’d put in an immediate prohibition against any new farming operation breaking ground.

I’d call the Legislature into special session and tell lawmakers to loosen their ties, take off their heels, roll up their sleeves, make a pot of coffee and hammer out regulations designed to protect the water supply of rural Arizona.

But I’m not in charge. The people in charge know they only need to win in Maricopa County to win statewide, so they don’t give a nickel about rural areas.

The state’s Water Resources department has met in Kingman twice over the past few months to take public comment on the water situation. That’s comforting, but I don’t think ADWR understands how significant are its own data.

It’s simple: Our demand for water is out-pacing our supply of water. We’re not talking about beer or wine, chocolate or steak, Ford or Chevy. These are all things we can live without, but we cannot live without water. It is, by definition, essential to life.

But we regulate the heck out of the alcohol, food, and automobile industries – and every other industry and occupation.

OK, no use beating that dead horse, but here’s a live one that could use a few lashes from the whip:

Why isn’t the accelerated depletion of our water supply being treated like the emergency it is?

The state is calmly taking public comment, which we all appreciate if for no other reason we know they know we’re in crisis.

But if we’re not careful, we’re going to talk ourselves to death – literally.

Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Marie Antoinette told them to eat cake when there was no bread for them to bake. The state of Arizona is holding strategic planning sessions on how to plan strategically as the Mohave County waterhole turns into a mud hole.

It is very easy to think the reaction would be far more proactive if this were happening where the bulk of our lawmakers live.

In fairness, I give Gov. Doug Ducey credit for at least starting the conversation.

And don’t tell me about the farmers’ right to make a living.

Nobody has a right to earn a buck when it takes away that same right from others – like 200,000 others.

They’re growing alfalfa, a thirsty livestock cash crop and they’re shipping much of it out of the country, just like our jobs.

The supervisors and mayors of Kingman, Bullhead and Havasu need to poke and prod until the state takes action.