Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Next city/county water forum is Wed. 6/25

The next meeting is set for tomorrow, June 25, at 6:00 pm in the Randolph Golf course clubhouse, located at 600 S. Alvernon Way.
I'll be attending and will provide an update here later in the week.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Local water goings-on

I'll try to start things off here by posting some info giving my take on the ongoing joint county/city water and wastewater study committee. This is a committee, working with considerable community input, established by the city council and board of supervisors to assess our current resources and probable future needs in the water resources area.

Here's the link to the committee website, where you can look up agendas for future meeting, review the minutes of past meetings, and check out some of the presentations and documents they are looking at: http://www.tucsonpimawaterstudy.com/

The committee has a monumental task in front of them. They have taken it on earnestly. But I fear they have been given very little guidance as to what the end result should be. As a result there are two likely results of the process - either too ambitious, in which case it will be torn apart by opposing interests (probably developers, but it's too early to start pointing fingers); or too timid, presenting some vague recommendations, that will seem pretty obvious, permit local politicians to claim to the voters that they are "doing something," but have no real impact on the problems we are facing. My vote is on the latter, but I tend to be a pessimist on these issues. I'm still willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and hope that something worthwhile will come of this process. Check back later for more.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Here goes!

I'm new to this, so bear with me while I work out some of the kinks.
I decided to start this blog because I have been living in Tucson for almost 25 years - initially as a student, studying hydrology, then as a consulting hydrologist (doing most of my work in California, but keeping abreast of water issues at home), and most recently as a law student. My foray into law school stemmed in part from my frustration at what I perceived to be a horrible disconnect between water law and policy, on one side, and the science - hydrology, hydrogeology, environmental science, however you choose to label it.

I had watched Tucson develop over those 25 years from a bustling town of about half a million to the current sprawling metropolis of over a million, wondering all along: how are we going to sustain this growth. Water law was set up largely to accommodate beneficial use of water. Farming, ranching, housing, mining - all forms of economic development are considered beneficial uses of water. Water for its own sake - as a component of a healthy environment - didn't even enter into the equation. To make things worse, the law and the governing institutions that controlled access to water, were typically completely separate from the law and governing institutions that controlled land development - a disconnect that was certain to result in catastrophe in an arid place like Tucson, so highly dependent on both water and development for its present and continued existence.

Don't take all this the wrong way. I am not a no-growther. I believe that development is necessary and in many respects a good thing. But it is my strong belief that growth should proceed in an orderly and carefully considered manner when its sustainability is dependent on a natural resource that is inherently limited and generally irreplaceable. That is what brought me to where I am today and what I hope to play a role in bringing about in the future. Growth policy - dealing with both water and land use - that results from a careful melding of good science and good law.

Next time I'll discuss some of the efforts currently underway in Tucson to bring this about. Specifically, the current effort by the city of Tucson and Pima County to develop a blueprint for the future growth of the metro area by combining planning efforts for both land and water.