Report: Arizona 'Not All That Close' To Achieving Safe-Yield On Groundwater

By Mark Brodie
Published: Thursday, June 10, 2021 - 12:15pm
Updated: Friday, June 11, 2021 - 7:14am

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Boats at Lake Mead
National Park Service
Boats at Lake Mead in February 2015.

Arizona has a groundwater problem. Outlined in a new report, called “The Myth of Safe Yield,” the authors note that if we could see our groundwater aquifers underground, many would look like the images we’ve seen of Lake Mead, with its bathtub ring indicating falling water levels.

The state has regulated groundwater for more than 40 years under the 1980 Groundwater Management Act. Among other provisions, it set a goal of safe-yield by 2025; that means the amount of groundwater being pumped out would be roughly the same amount of recharge going into the aquifers.

But that’s not happening, and while other water sources, like the Colorado River, have reduced our dependence on groundwater, those sources are also under stress.

Kathleen Ferris is senior research fellow at the Kyl Center for Water Policy at the ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy, and is also an author of this report. She has been working on groundwater management issues for more than four decades.

The Show spoke with her to learn how many issues we predicted and what ones were unforeseen.

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