We must protect our groundwater
Arizona is one of the fastest-growing states in the country, with enviable economic expansion and population growth. This growth, however, depends upon steady and reliable sources of water, a precious natural resource that must be sustainably managed. Here in Mohave County, our industries, particularly our agricultural community, need reliable water supplies. It’s the foundation upon which our economy rests. Groundwater in particular is a fundamental part of this growth, and new research from Arizona State University found that it contributed an estimated 43% of Arizona’s gross domestic product (GDP), or $1.2 trillion to the economy, over the course of nine years (2010-2018). As Arizona and the entire Western United States grapple with the emerging threat of climate change-induced drought, we must take steps to better manage this emerging threat to our communities and economy. That means supporting efforts to empower cities and towns with the authority needed to sustainably manage our water supplies, including our groundwater.
Here in Mohave County, groundwater represents a critical water supply, not only for homes and businesses, but also for agriculture and industry. Our sources of groundwater have existed for centuries, but unchecked consumption has led to many sources becoming depleted in a matter of decades.
Recent research has suggested that, under current conditions, some aquifers in the Kingman area could be depleted within 60-70 years without extraordinary measures being taken. To protect our state’s precious water resources and to ensure we have a reliable and sustainable water supply into the future, local communities must have the tools we need to adequately manage water supplies.
We are hopeful that the expanded broadband access planned along I-40 will allow farms to manage and measure their usage more effectively. But we must also take additional important steps – such as those proposed by State Rep. Regina Cobb (R-Kingman) – to allow local communities to form Rural Management Areas and implement best-management practices according to our specific needs, community vision and locally driven considerations, reduce unsustainable groundwater pumping by limiting unchecked irrigation expansion, and allowing the Arizona Department of Water Resources to help us manage our groundwater by understanding future groundwater pumping impacts.
Arizona’s issues with groundwater will only be solved through collaboration and open dialogue among all citizens and industries, including those of us in rural communities. Our community must be informed and engaged on groundwater issues so that we can be proactive in finding appropriate solutions to our water challenges, and rural communities in Arizona must have the authority to actually implement those solutions.
We should be able to make our own decisions when it comes to conservation and protecting our precious resources, rather than being forced to accept solutions crafted by those outside our communities who may lack a full understanding of the challenges we face.
As the Executive Director of the Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce, I’m committed to working to ensure communities like mine have the authority to develop and implement solutions to this pressing problem before it’s too late. The future of Mohave County and our growing economy depends on the sustainable management of our groundwater. It’s the foundation of our communities, and without it, we all suffer.
(Becky Fawson is the executive director of the Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce.)