Analysis of Arizona’s Water Resources System

Author: Jesus R. Gastelum, Central Arizona Project

ABSTRACT An analysis of Arizona’s water resources system has been implemented. This study uses a qualitative system analysis approach to evaluate the most important components of the system: water supply, water demand, laws and regulations, stakeholders, decision makers, etc. Moreover, the investigation centres on some key components of the water resources system such as water conservation in active management areas (AMA), rural Arizona, population growth, and water rights transfers. This study provides insights on these important components, identifies factors that can be enhanced and offers suggestions for improving them. The overall goal of this analysis is to contribute ideas that will help to establish a more efficient and holistic programme to secure sustainable development of water resources.

For the full article.

Urban Heat Island Research in Phoenix

Urban Heat Island Research in Phoenix, Arizona: Theoretical Contributions and Policy Applications

Authors: Winston T. L. Chow, Dean Brennan, and Anthony J. Brazel

Department of Engineering, Arizona State University, Mesa, Arizona
School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona


Over the past 60 years, metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, has been among the fastest-growing urban areas in the United States, and this rapid urbanization has resulted in an urban heat island (UHI) of substantial size and intensity. During this time, an uncommon amount of UHI-specific research, relative to other cities in North America, occurred within its boundaries. This review investigates the possible reasons and motivations underpinning the large body of work, as well as summarizing specific themes, approaches, and theoretical contributions arising from such study. It is argued that several factors intrinsic to Phoenix were responsible for the prodigious output: strong applied urban climate research partnerships between several agencies (such as the academy, the National Weather Service, private energy firms, and municipal governments); a high-quality, long-standing network of urban meteorological stations allowing for relatively fine spatial resolution of near-surface temperature data; and a high level of public and media interest in the UHI. Three major research themes can be discerned: 1) theoretical contributions from documenting, modeling, and analyzing the physical characteristics of the UHI; 2) interdisciplinary investigation into its biophysical and social consequences; and 3) assessment and evaluation of several UHI mitigation techniques. Also examined herein is the successful implementation of sustainable urban climate policies within the metropolitan area. The authors note the importance of understanding and applying local research results during the policy formation process.

Chow, Winston T. L., Dean Brennan, Anthony J. Brazel, 2012: Urban Heat Island Research in Phoenix, Arizona: Theoretical Contributions and Policy Applications. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 93, 517–530.


Our Future with Water: Three-part Film Series

Friday, May 4, 11 and 18, 7 p.m.

Water conservation is an important lesson to learn when living in the desert. The Tempe History Museum will host a three-part film series on what will happen to the future of water. Join the museum to enjoy these documentaries:

Blue Gold: World Water Wars. A film that reports on various powers trying to take control of the public’s water for personal profit. (Friday, May 4)

Tapped. A film examining the role of the bottled water industry (Friday, May 11)

The American Southwest: Are we running dry? A definitive look at how the water crisis affects the American Southwest (Friday, May 18)

Expert presenters will host each session with introductory remarks, the film screening and a question and answer period. Refreshments (including water) will be served.

In the News

San Diego Takes Water Fight Public: Fees and Anger Rise in California Water War

by Adam Nagourney and Felicity Barringer at The New York times

There are accusations of conspiracies, illegal secret meetings and double-dealing. Embarrassing documents and e-mails have been posted on an official Web site emblazoned with the words “Fact vs. Fiction.” Animosities have grown so deep that the players have resorted to exchanging lengthy, caustic letters, packed with charges of lying and distortion.

And it is all about water.

Water is a perennial source of conflict and anxiety throughout the arid West, but it has a particular resonance here in the deserts of Southern California.

Read the article at The New York Times.

In the News

April 2012 The Morrison Institute launches a new series about Arizona’s water future. The first in the series “Let’s Talk Water” by Grady Gammage, is intended to prompt discussion about our state’s essential resource.

April 12, 2012 DCDC researcher Ray Quay, co-authored Opening Access to Scenario Planning Tools. In the face of increasing complexity and uncertainty, planners, public officials, and community residents need new tools to anticipate and shape the future. Opening Access to Scenario Planning Tools examines the current state of scenario planning and scenario planning tools that can help communities and regions prepare for that future through a variety of visioning, land use, transportation, and other planning efforts. Download the report.

April 12, 2012 Chicago Climate Action Plan a One NOAA Science Seminar Series. Abstract: Urban areas are responsible for 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions and cities are increasingly seen as the place where the solutions to climate change will be found. Chicago developed its Climate Action Plan in 2007 to outline the mitigation and climate readiness goals for the city. It has since been recognized as one of the leading plans in the country because of its scientific rigor, community involvement, and actionable targets.

April 10, 2012 Dot Earth: More on Extreme Weather in a Warming Climate via Andrew Revkin at The New York Times.

April 10, 2012 A Visualization of March Heat Breaking 15,000 Records in the U.S. via The Atlantic.

April 9, 2012 Volunteers Clean Up Tempe’s ‘A’ Mountain via AZ Central.

March 22, 2012 Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) on Global Water Security. The ICA is based on a National Intelligence Estimate requested by Secretary Clinton to assess the impact of global water issues on U.S. national security interests. The report concludes that while wars over water are unlikely within the next ten years, water challenges – shortages, poor water quality, floods – will likely increase the risk of instability and state failure, exacerbate regional tensions, and distract countries from working with the United States on important policy objectives. Read the report.

April 17 Water/Climate Briefing

The Economics of Water Demand: The Dynamics of Water Use and Price


V. Kerry Smith, Regents Professor, W. P. Carey School of Business, Department of Economics
Doug Frost, Principal Planner, Water Services Department, City of Phoenix
Gary Niekerk, Director of Corporate Citizenship, Intel Corporation

When and Where:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012, 12:00-1:30pm
Decision Center for a Desert City
21 East 6th Street, Suite 126B, Tempe
Map: DCDC Contact
Lunch will be served. Please RSVP to


Price is often suggested as a simple straightforward tool to encourage people to be more efficient in how they use water. DCDC water/climate briefings coverHowever, the economics of water demand are not that simple. Water is used for many purposes. Water is used to meet the basic necessity of life, consumption and hygiene. Water is used to create an atmosphere that suits our lifestyles, landscapes and pools, and perhaps long hot showers. Water is used for economic gain, from creating places attractive to customers to washing silicon chips. The sale of water is also used to finance the infrastructure and costs associated with making water available to a community. Each of these water uses has its own economic dynamics based on behaviors and motivation for water use which can vary among the consumers in each category. At the same time, the economics for each of these water uses are related, changes in one can affect the other. Thus, decision making about the price of water is not as clear as it may initially appear. The goal of this climate briefing is to increase the awareness of the complexities associated with the price of water by facilitating a discussion about the differences and relationships that exist in the economics of different water uses.

Download the flyer.

Arizona Climate and Water Resources Alliance Workshop

On April 4, 2012, Decision Center for a Desert City hosted the Arizona Climate and Water Resources Alliance Collaborative Workshop on Climate Extremes exploring extreme climate events and their regional implications for water management: floods and droughts. The purpose of this workshop was to build on research in atmospheric science, hydrology, and climate assessment performed by scientists at the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and other partner institutions, in order to address issues related to extreme hydroclimatic events (e.g. droughts, floods), and to plan a larger meeting to discuss extreme events and their implication for flood and drought management with scientists and flood and water managers.

The goals of this informal meeting:

  1. Foster dialogue among researchers and floodplain and water resources managers.
  2. Share the concerns of water professionals: What kind of dcisions do flood and water managers make? What data and information (e.g., resolution, lead time) needs exist among flood and water managers (given the current state of research)?
  3. Share the state of the science: present, assess, and discuss the scientific progress around projecting extreme events and assessing their implications on a regional level (flood as short-term extreme event, drought as long-term extreme event).
  4. Present a strategy for moving forward on science and planning for extreme events outside of the range of historical record: The ARkStorm project, in which scientists regional engineers, emergency managers, economists, and others collaborated to combine historic floods in a scientifically plausible way, in order to examine engineering and emergency management solutions that are fiscally sound and responsible. On the dry side: a “Joseph’s Drought” project.
  5. Gain consensus on a short-term research strategy to address extreme events in Arizona, and identify elements needed for a long-term research strategy.
  6. Identify participants for larger meeting.

Southwest Climate Assessment Report Review

The Southwest Climate Alliance [SWCA] welcomes your comments on a DRAFT version of the “Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest United States: A Technical Report Prepared for the U.S. National Climate Assessment”.

The SWCA is a consortium of research institutions in the region, including NOAA Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (The Climate Assessment for the Southwest [CLIMAS], The California-Nevada Applications Program [CNAP], and the Western Water Assessment [WWA]) and the U.S. Department of Interior’s Southwest Climate Science Center.

Written chiefly during late 2011, with revisions in early 2012, this report provides a snapshot of the current state of climate change information and knowledge related to the U.S. Southwest region. The region covers six states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah—an area that includes vast stretches of coastline, an international border, and the jurisdictions of nearly two hundred Native Nations.

Visit the Southwest Climate Assessment Report Review website.