Thirsty For Solutions. Steve Williamson and Karen McClelland welcome Sandy Bahr back to the show. Bahr is a long-time representative of the Arizona Chapter of the Sierra Club and spends a great deal of her time lobbying the Arizona legislature on behalf of the environment. In recent years, much of her focus has been on the growing scarcity of water in Arizona and the rest of the Southwest.
“The water in the Colorado River has always been overallocated even without the extended drought – the impacts of climate change – there wasn’t enough water for all of the straws that were being put into the river. And so, there’s a structural deficit with the Colorado River to begin with. And anyone who’s been paying attention can see that, over the years, the amount of water was dwindling and increasing problems. But the people in the legislature, and in the governor’s office, pretty much ignored it until it got to a point where it triggered shortages for Arizona.”
Regarding the bill passed by last year’s legislature, she explains that the focus is on importing water from outside the state of Arizona. “There’s some focus on conservation,” she says. “But not nearly enough.” It’s true that former Governor Ducey got the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority to consider a proposal for a desalination plant in the Gulf of California. But there are huge problems with it, Bahr explains. “First of all, we know now that the governor of Sonora said ‘no’, we’re really not planning to do this. Two, there are environmental impacts. Putting brine in the Gulf of California is a problem. Running a pipeline through Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is a problem. And the cost is quite significant, as well,” says Bahr.
Meanwhile, she notes, the legislature this session is doing nothing about water. “You’d think that we don’t have a serious water problem if you look at the bills being considered.”