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Op-Ed: Implications for Phoenix as Lake Mead Runs Dry

Metro Phoenix has a lot to think about as Lake Mead water shortages become ever more likely. A three-state drought contingency plan may only be a temporary fix for a problem that'll divide cities and stakeholders.
October 9, 2018, 11am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Dry Lake in Arizona

Joanna Allhands discusses a likely future of tough decisions and water disputes for Phoenix as Lake Mead threatens to run dry. While a proposed drought contingency plan (DCP) won't jeopardize the city's primary supply of water, metro Phoenix cities also draw upon sources that may be affected in the event of a shortage.

Allhands writes, "Somewhat overlooked in the discussion is the impact to cities when a shortage is declared under DCP – likely because most of the water on which cities rely is high-priority water that would not be cut in a Tier 1 shortage, regardless of whether DCP is in place."

She goes on, "But metro Phoenix cities also have shares of what's called Non-Indian Agricultural (NIA) water, which is one rung higher on the priority ladder than the so-called Ag Pool water used by Pinal County farmers. That means if the drought contingency plan is approved, a portion of that NIA water would be cut when a Tier 1 shortage is declared [...]"

In the end, Allhands argues, any contingency plan that relies on Lake Mead's uncertain future water reserves is only a "Band-Aid" for a deeper problem, one that present Arizona cities with political questions—and even existential ones.

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Published on Monday, October 8, 2018 in
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