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October 20, 2023 / Volume 11, Issue 29

The Water Resources Research Center - a research unit of the College of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences and an Extension unit in UA Cooperative Extension within the Division of Agriculture, Life & Veterinary Sciences & Cooperative Extension.

Land Acknowledgement.

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IN THIS ISSUE: Imagine a Day Without Water, Seminar Recap, CSA Policy Summit, Photo Contest, WINDS Model Study, New Accountant, USGS Tribal Open House

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Imagining a Day Without Water –

Water Security in Arizona

On October 19, the US Water Alliance organized its 9th annual Imagine a Day Without Water campaign to raise awareness of issues of water security and to promote investment in our water systems. In recognition of this national call to action, the WRRC dug into some of the available water security data in Arizona.  


For many throughout Arizona, imagining a day without water is not an academic exercise or thought experiment, it is a reality. For example, on the Navajo Nation, residents are

67 times more likely than other Americans to live without access to running water. This is the reality for many, not only on Tribal lands but also in rural and underserved communities throughout the state. These populations must haul water, sometimes from great distances (and at significant cost), for even basic needs such as drinking, cooking, and washing. Contemplating issues of water access and security, this analysis seeks to highlight the precarious characteristics of water access in many communities in Arizona that receive water delivered by public water systems.


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WRRC Water Webinar: Empowering Arizona's Water Resource Management: Navigating Equity, Economic, and Ecological Challenges with Cutting-Edge Decision-Support Tools

Date: Monday, October 23, 2023

Time: 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Arizona Time

Location: Zoom


Abu Mansaray, PhD, Research Project Manager, Oklahoma Water Resources Center, Division of Agricultural Science and Natural Resources, Oklahoma State University

Assuring sustainable supply of clean water is plagued by a complex web of challenges that collectively constitute a wicked water problem. Rapid population growth and diversification, coupled with the adverse impacts of climate change, strain already limited water resources. Technology continues to reveal emerging contaminants, raising new concerns about the safety of existing water supply sources, and further constraining the ability to provide safe water to meet growing demands. These challenges have far-reaching consequences, affecting not only vulnerable human populations and biodiversity, but also industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, and municipalities. Arid and semi-arid regions, at the frontline of these challenges, hold a unique opportunity to lead the world in tackling these complex water problems. This talk offers an opportunity to bolster the already ongoing leadership roles of the University of Arizona, through the Water Resources Research Center, in promoting actionable science to develop tools that help us navigate complex water resources challenges. This WRRC webinar presentation highlights examples of utilizing geospatial and modeling approaches to leverage engagement with stakeholders in the pursuit of answering piquing questions about water resource problems.

Register Here

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Upcoming WRRC Water Webinars

Oct 31: Advancing Water Sustainability: A Vision for Research and Engagement at the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center

Speaker: Jamie McEvoy, PhD, Associate Professor of Geography, Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University

Nov 2: Capacity, Performance, and Collaborative Planning in Water Governance

Speaker: Emily Bell, PhD, Assistant Professor of Public Administration and Policy, School of Public and International Affairs, University of Georgia

Nov 28: WRRC Water Webinar: 104(b) Student Research Presentations

Nov 30: WRRC Water Webinar: 104(b) Student Research Presentations

Upcoming WRRC Co-Sponsored Events

Oct 30: ENVS Colloquium Series: The Arizona Water Innovation Initiative: A Thriving Water Future for the Benefit of All of Arizona

Nov 7: NVIS Fall 2023 Seminar: From Metal Mining to Data Mining: How Indigenous Data Governance Supports Indigenous Sovereignty Within an Open Science Ecosystem

Dec 5: NVIS Fall 2023 Seminar: Culture, Education, and Water Sovereignty in Southern California Tribal Communities

Other Events

Nov 6–7: Tribal Water Law Conference


Arizona’s Potential for “Solar River”


Last Thursday’s WRRC Water Webinar provided an overview and discussion of predicted successes and challenges of covering Arizona’s water canals with solar panels. Speakers Ben Lepley, architect and researcher at Tectonicus, and David DeJong, director of the Pima-Maricopa Irrigation Project, spoke about their ongoing research and projects. Under a grant funded by the Bureau of Reclamation, the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) will soon begin construction on a solar-canal project near Chandler. DeJong has collaborated with Lepley as well as George Cairo Engineering on this project. Tectonicus’ photovoltaics and canal research, which they call “Solar River,” occurs in their laboratory in Bisbee, Arizona, in conjunction with GIS Modeling and analysis of the SRP service district. Their model includes a low-cost, high-output solar panel structure and construction sequence that should not impede canal flow nor canal maintenance, and even allows for easy removal if necessary. Data found that solar over canals in a climatic region like Arizona showed greater value and benefits than land-based solar. Lab analysis and modeling have predicted a 1.9% boost in solar panel power generation, equated to annual savings of $2.3M, as a result of cooling effects from water. The analysis also estimated an annual water savings of 2,300AF (valued at $9.2M) from reduced evaporation and $47.3M in savings from reduced algae growth maintenance.


WRRC Participates in the 2023 CSA Legislative Policy Summit


Last week, Director Sharon B. Megdal and Graduate Assistant Taylor Simmons represented the WRRC at the 2023 County Supervisors Association (CSA) Legislative Policy Summit in Flagstaff. The non-partisan forum is hosted annually by the CSA for elected county supervisors to discuss and devise plans for pressing county or statewide issues. Water management strategies, such as those of the Rural Groundwater Committee of the Governor’s Water Policy Council, were on the forum agenda. Director Megdal, who serves as a member of the Council and is on the Rural Groundwater Committee, was recognized during this session. During the summit, the WRRC set up a booth to help foster a greater understanding of the counties' water resources by sharing the Arizona Water Factsheets series with elected county supervisors and their staff.


More Info

Governor’s Water Policy Council

2023 WRRC Photo Contest: Extreme Weather and Water Scarcity


2023 has been a year of extremes in Arizona with heat, drought, fire, and even floods. Phoenix set a heat record of 54 days above 110°F, there was flooding in Black Canyon City and near the Grand Canyon, and across Arizona there have been 1,659 wildfires so far this year according to the Department of Forestry and Fire Management. You’ve experienced it, now you can showcase Arizona’s extremes. If you have snapped a picture of fierce weather or water scarcity, send in your photos for the 2023 WRRC Photo Contest. Submissions do not have to be of extreme weather events captured this year; you are welcome to pull from the archives for this year’s contest. A winner, runner-up, and honorable mention will be selected and all applicable submissions will be displayed on the WRRC website. Join us in documenting Arizona’s intense weather that knows no limit.


More Info

Submit Photos

WINDS Model Accurately Simulates

Guayule Irrigation

A recently published study in the journal Water calibrated the WINDS (Water-use, Irrigation, Nitrogen, Drainage, and Salinity) model for a simulation of the drought-tolerant crop guayule. The research focused on furrow (or flood) irrigation treatment of guayule, which is becoming a popular alternative crop in Arizona and produces natural rubber, over a two-year growth cycle. The WINDS model is a soil–water balance model that calculates crop evapotranspiration and uses root activity and root depth to estimate soil water depletion as a function of depth and growth. Once calibrated, WINDS developed growth curves and accurately simulated evapotranspiration and water content for guayule. The goal of WINDS is to provide decision-making support when it comes to irrigation-managed crops in the Southwest. There is an online WINDS app, designed for irrigation management of guayule and other crops in the arid southwestern United States.


Access the Article


WRRC Welcomes New Accountant


The WRRC is pleased to welcome Nicholas Propp to the team! He will serve in the role of Accountant II in the shared Environmental Sciences Business Office. He joins us from the UArizona College of Medicine’s Pediatrics department. Nic was born and raised in Tucson and can’t imagine living anywhere else, emphasizing that “it truly is my home.” He has been with the University for over nine years and is fast approaching his ten-year anniversary in March 2024. Nic is working on finishing a degree in Anthropology and hopes to continue his education once it is complete. Welcome to the team, Nic!

WRRC Co-Hosts Tribal Engagement

Open House

On Monday, October 15, the WRRC co-hosted a Tribal engagement open house with the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The open house served as a beacon of unity and cooperation, bringing together key stakeholders to discuss the role USGS serves in Tribal communities. The USGS brought its wealth of expertise to the table, making this collaboration a valuable networking and information-sharing opportunity for the WRRC. The event featured poster presentations, open discussions, and networking. Attendees had the chance to explore research on water resources, gain insight into Tribal perspectives, and engage in productive conversations about the future of our planet's most vital resource. By co-hosting this event, the WRRC and USGS demonstrated their commitment to cross-disciplinary cooperation, a crucial factor in addressing the world's most pressing water challenges. It was a powerful reminder of the importance of coming together, irrespective of our backgrounds and affiliations, to safeguard our shared water resources for generations to come.

Image: Jessica Driscoll, USGS


Please visit WRRC's website for a complete listing of water jobs & opportunities.



Soil Health Needs Assessment Survey

The Soil Health Research and Extension (SHRE) team at the University of Arizona designed and conducted a statewide soil health needs assessment survey to document stakeholder perceptions, interests, and expectations on soil health research and educational needs. The survey successfully documented essential information from a diverse group of producers, pest control advisors, and other industry members who represented the commercial agricultural industry in Arizona. The data confirmed stakeholder interest in soil health research and educational programs and provided the necessary information on their soil health needs to build an effective research-based soil health extension program. More Info


Underground Injection Control Program Primacy Application

ADEQ is applying for primary enforcement authority (“primacy”) over the Underground Injection Control (UIC) program, currently administered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under the Safe Drinking Water Act. A successful application for primacy would allow ADEQ to administer a regulatory program for underground injection wells within the State of Arizona's jurisdiction that is consistent with the Safe Drinking Water Act, tailored to the specific needs of Arizonans and the state’s unique environment, and designed to protect underground sources of drinking water from underground injection activities. ADEQ welcomes public review of the proposed UIC Primacy Application elements. A virtual public hearing will be held on November 20, 2023. You may also submit comments or questions by email to uic@azdeq.gov before November 20. More Info

University of Arizona Field Day

You are invited to participate in the University of Arizona Field Day on October 19, 2023, from 7:30 am – 11:00 am at the Campus Ag Center in Tucson to rate plants in the UArizona Landscape Plant Irrigation Trial. This trial evaluates plant material to identify low water-use plants for Arizona landscapes. Space is limited. Please RSVP here. A reminder along with a map to the site will be sent by email the week of the event.


Apply to Host the Southwest CASC!

Qualified organizations are invited to apply to host and, as applicable, serve as consortium partners for the North Central and Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASCs). Proposals are due February 1, 2024, by 4 pm ET. More Info

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