Summer is here and temperatures are rising, but that hasn’t stopped lawmakers from continuing their water roadshow through which they hope to hear what local residents and stakeholders have to say about water issues in different parts of Arizona. This series of listening sessions, so far held in Casa Grande, Yuma, Safford, Kingman, Camp Verde, and Buckeye, is an open forum for concerned folks to voice their opinion, share their water woes, and to bring forward solutions to State Representatives and Senators.
You have to hand it to the legislators on the Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Committee - the Kingman session lasted 5 ½ hours!
Northern Arizona Audubon Society Chapter members Dennis Tomko and Kay Hawklee, as well as Audubon Arizona’s Policy Manager, Haley Paul, attended the Camp Verde hearing on June 15. They provided statements to the Committee highlighting the Important Bird Areas along the Verde River and its tributaries, the economic impact of outdoor recreation in the region and in the state, and how the issues on the Verde River are connected to the issues on the Colorado River. Sound groundwater management, especially in places like the Verde Valley where groundwater and surface water are connected, along with enacting a Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan - where Arizona, California, and Nevada work together to save more water in Lake Mead - are important for all water users in the state.
Tice Supplee, Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon Arizona, provided remarks to the Committee at the June 20 Buckeye hearing. She stressed the importance of the Gila River to Buckeye’s agricultural economy as well as to a thriving ecosystem of birds and wildlife. She also informed the Committee that the lower Gila River from the Tres Rios wetlands to Gillespie Dam is a globally Important Bird Area – part of an international network of sites that maintain the long-term viability of wild bird populations. She let the Committee know that the careful management of the water that flows in the lower Gila River is critical to birds and to people. As drought continues, we must be mindful of the collective impacts we have on the very things we live here for.
Being involved in the conversation when policymakers are talking water - just another way we are advocating for our rivers and the wildlife, habitat, and humans who depend on them.
(View Audubon Arizona’s committee meeting statement here)