Bill Auberle, Director of Engineering Programs at the College of Engineering & Natural Sciences, Northern Arizona University, attended the Town Hall as a participant. He said, “There was agreement among participants that identifying long-term assured water supplies is critical for Arizona’s future. The biggest problem is that we don’t know what’s available now and there isn’t any money to do hydrologic modeling. In the meantime, water becomes more scarce and a crisis looms. We must educate citizens so that they understand the potential consequences. If we are successful educating the public, needed action by citizens and our elected officials will follow.”
Another Coconino County participant, Deborah Tuck, President of the Grand Canyon National Park Foundation, offered another perspective, “It is critical that we create a culture of conservation in Arizona. This can be done by educating our children in schools, launching a far-reaching and ongoing public service campaign, and by welcoming and informing new residents about our state’s unique environment and its assets and the critical importance of conservation. We live in a desert state with limited water resources and we should act accordingly.”
Other participants from Coconino County included Constantine J. Dillon, Superintendent, Horace M. Albright Training Center, Grand Canyon.
Responding to questions ranging from how to best plan and prepare for extreme fluctuations in water supplies (drought and flooding), to what opportunities and challenges might result from resolution of long standing Native American water claims, to whether water conservation policies should be developed and required throughout Arizona, participants in five separate panels agreed that a statewide water assessment, taking into consideration regional needs, must be developed and implemented by state and local policymakers.
For 42 years, the nonprofit Arizona Town Hall has assembled state residents twice a year to debate major statewide policy issues, develop consensus and make recommendations. The 1,500-member organization is under the leadership of a 62-member elected board of directors representing all 15 counties and a wide cross section of communities throughout the state.