Navajos and Hopis Concerned Over Water Deal With Feds

Via AZ

The house where Dixie Ellis lives with her mother is perched on a mesa above town. It is a steep hike up the hill from Lake Powell, the second-largest man-made reservoir on the continent, and an easier walk up Arizona 98 from the Navajo Generating Station, one of the country’s largest coal-fired power plants.

“Tourists ask me about it,” Ellis said, nodding at the three 774-foot smokestacks that rise into the northern sky from the power plant less than 3 miles down the hill. “I tell them we don’t even have running water or electricity. They can’t believe it.”

Ellis’ mother, 96-year-old Sally Young, signed over part of her grazing lease to allow construction of the plant more than 40 years ago, one of hundreds of families that gave up land for a promise of jobs and a stronger economy. Her family said she was also promised water and power, promises that apparently never made it on paper.

“Other people are benefiting from it, but we’re not getting anything,” said Pearl Begay, Ellis’ daughter. “No lights, no running water, just the smokestacks.”

The power plant has emerged as an issue in a proposed water agreement between the federal government and the Navajo and Hopi tribes. The government has offered the Navajos an extra allotment of water if they will ensure that leases are renewed for the plant site and for a mine near Kayenta that supplies coal to generate electricity.

Read more:

The Desert Southwest: Oasis or Mirage?

by Pete Zrioka, Arizona State University Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development

The American West has a drinking problem. On farms and in cities, we are guzzling water at an alarming rate.

Scientists say that to live sustainably, we should use no more than 40 percent of the water from the Colorado River Basin. As it is now, we use 76 percent, nearly double the sustainable benchmark.

There are some safeguards in place against water scarcity. The reservoir Lakes Mead and Powell can provide approximately five years of average annual stream flow at full capacity for insurance against low rainfall years.

But John Sabo, an associate professor in Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences, believes that 50 years in the future – rather than five – should be the planning mark for water usage.

David White, co-director of ASU’s Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC), says that Arizona water policy has done a good job of providing adequate supplies for the growth of the region up to this point. But environmental and demographic factors will likely require changes in that system. The DCDC uses research to inform environmental policy in times of uncertainty.

Read the entire article at ASU News.

DCDC Poster Symposium

On April 25, 2012, Decision Center for a Desert City hosted their annual poster symposium. A highlight of the spring semester, graduate students enrolled in the Community of Graduate Scholars and undergraduate students participating in the Internship for Science-Practice Integration program presented the results of their DCDC research projects.

Community of Graduate Scholars (CGS)

The Community of Graduate Scholars is a year-long, one-credit course that gives graduate students the opportunity to become leaders in transdisciplinary approaches to research, policy, and community engagement.

(L to R) Becca Neel, Gretchen Hawkins, Geetali Dudhbhate, Chrissie Bausch
Students work on Decision Center for a Desert City projects, as well as related efforts at ASU. Students are involved in multiple projects, examining the relationships among them, and thus learn to articulate and promote integrated perspectives.

DCDC faculty members are involved in interdisciplinary collaborations that offer rich opportunities to graduate students. Each CGS student works on a research team that includes one or more faculty members and both graduate and undergraduate students; this work provides them with the intellectual depth necessary to contribute to DCDC’s research.

CGS provides graduate students with a supportive environment where they can:

  • develop a broad understanding of the research process and how it is practiced across sciences
  • develop a professional and unique intellectual identity and voice
  • improve scientific communication and presentation skills
  • engage with researchers and community partners
  • make contributions to DCDC as a boundary organization


  • Envisioning Water Futures in the Greater Phoenix Area: What Do We Want The Future To Look Like? – Lauren Withycombe Keeler (CGS), Arnim Wiek, Dave White, Kelli Larson, and Kendon Jung
  • Psychological Barriers to Water Conservation: The Case of Desert Landscaping – Rebecca Neel (CGS), Edward Sadalla, Susan Ledlow, Anna Berlin, Samantha Neufeld, Yexin Li, and Claire Yee
  • Half Full? Buffering Central Arizona Farmers from Signals of Environmental Change – Julia C. Bausch (CGS), John P. Conners, and Hallie Eakin
  • Distributed Hydrologic Modeling of Semiarid Basins in Arizona: A Platform for Climate Change Assessments – Gretchen A. Hawkins (CGS) and Enrique R. Vivoni
  • A Decision Making Game to Guide Water Sustainability Related to Policy Outcomes – Geetali Dudhbhate (CGS), Erik Johnston, Ajay Vinze, Rashmi Krishnamurthy, Dweepika Desai, and Qian Hu
  • Interactive Computer Simulations for Public Administration Education – Rashmi Krishnamurthy, Qian Hu, and Erik Johnston

Internship for Science-Practice Integration

The Decision Center for a Desert City undergraduate internship program bridges the world of academia to the world of water management by placing students with agencies to carry out use-inspired research projects.

(L to R) Katja Brundiers, Michael Babcock, Michael Nicastro, Colin Russell, McKenzie Ragan, Kena Fedorschak, Ariel Pepper, Dr. Peggy Nelson
Through the program, students learn about the concepts and practical aspects of boundary research. The one-semester internship program is available to undergraduate students in their senior year.

The DCDC internship program integrates science and practice by expecting the students:

  • to work 10 hours per week on a project that is relevant to their internship mentor and agency, learning about professional practice
  • to develop an original research project within the internship , linking science and practice
  • to team-up with a faculty mentor, receiving academic advice and ensuring the academic rigor of their research project
  • to participate in a weekly 3-credit hour class to discuss the research-based internship, building skills in the areas of communication, meeting facilitation, and presentation delivery


State-level ADWR (general governance approaches)

How Do We Catalyze Adaptive and Innovative Practices in Public Regulatory Agencies?

  • McKenzie Ragan, Internship Fellow, School of Sustainability
  • Michael J. Lacey, Internship Provider, Arizona Department of Water Resources
  • Dave D. White, Faculty Mentor, Decision Center for a Desert City

Inter-city comparison: Planning approach 1: scenario construction as adaptive planning approach

How Scenario Planning Will Benefit Scottsdale Water Resources’ Master Planning Process

  • Ariel Pepper, Internship Fellow, School of Sustainability
  • Beth Miller, Internship Provider, City of Scottsdale
  • Ray Quay, Faculty Mentor, Decision Center for a Desert City

Inter-City level: Planning approach 2: collaborative management: problem perception and potential solution-options

Prevalent Perceptions of Water Use in Arizona

  • Colin Russell, Internship Fellow, School of Sustainability
  • Mark Holmes, Internship Provider, City of Mesa
  • Erik Johnston, Faculty Mentor, School of Public Affairs

What Factors Motivated the Creation of the Colorado and Kansas Water Congresses?

  • Kena Fedorschak, Internship Fellow, School of Sustainability
  • Mark Holmes, Internship Provider, City of Mesa
  • Erik Johnston, Faculty Mentor, School of Public Affairs

Engaging businesses as multiplier of solutions

The Relationship between Restaurants and Sustainability: Marketing the Tempe FOG Program

  • Michael Nicastro, Internship Fellow, School of Sustainability
  • David McNeil, Internship Provider, City of Tempe
  • George Basile, Faculty Mentor, School of Sustainability

Smartscape: Using Education as a Tool for Reducing Water in Desert Landscapes

  • Michael Alan Babcock, Internship Fellow, School of Sustainability
  • Summer Waters and Haley Paul, Internship Provider, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension
  • Kelli Larson, Faculty Mentor, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and the School of Sustainability