“Whereas protecting water resources is essential to the State’s future and requires a well-trained work force of water professionals… therefore Rep. Rosanna Gabaldon invites the members of the House of Representatives to recognize April 12 – April 18, 2020 as Arizona’s Water Professionals Appreciation Week and extend sincere gratitude and appreciation to the water professionals who are on the front line of delivering Arizona’s safe and reliable water…” – from House Resolution 2003, now a House Proclamation, which was read on the Arizona House Floor on March 18, 2020.
A public celebration of Arizona’s water professionals scheduled for April 13 at the State Capitol has been cancelled, just as nearly every other public gathering nationwide has been cancelled this spring, a result of efforts to stem the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.
But while celebrations may be cancelled or postponed, the work must go on. It almost goes without saying, but assuring the steady, reliable and safe provision of water wherever it needs to go in Arizona is an indisputable “essential service” that will continue even as we labor to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Next week marks Arizona’s second annual Water Professionals Appreciation Week. Members of the water industry have chosen to sponsor this week to recognize their role in clean and sustainable water supplies, draw attention to career opportunities in the water industry, and increase awareness of Arizona’s unique water resources.
The task of providing safe and reliable water covers an enormous number of job descriptions.
At ADWR, our primary duty is to steward Arizona’s water future and help ensure long-term, reliable water supplies. To accomplish that mission requires a vast array of water-related talent including, but hardly limited to, hydrologists, geologists, engineers, planners, conservationists, groundwater modeling experts, attorneys and more.
Our regulatory work requires expertise in the well-drilling industry, Colorado River water management, underground water storage and banking, dam safety, irrigation rights, surface-water rights, tribal water rights and, again, much, much more.
It requires a team of experts knowledgeable in the Arizona Groundwater Management Act of 1980, still considered one of the most ambitious and successful laws in the country governing groundwater use. And it also requires an expertise in a thick body of laws known generally as “The Law of the River” -- in actuality, a complex package of laws and legal decisions that together form the legal framework for the management of the Colorado River. More than just a river, the Colorado in fact is an enormous water-delivery system involving seven U.S. states, the federal Department of the Interior and numerous Native American tribes.
Meanwhile, the Water Quality Division of our sister agency, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, protects and enhances public health and the environment by ensuring that healthy drinking water is provided by public water systems and by controlling current and future sources of surface and ground water pollution. To accomplish its tasks, ADEQ employs hydrogeologists, engineers, scientists and many other highly skilled professionals in areas as diverse as wastewater treatment operations, groundwater and water reuse programs and many others.
And those are just the skills employed on the regulatory side. The private-sector professionals involved in the vastly complex business of managing water requires professionals with the sort of skills cited above and countless more.
The cancellation of a celebration of those professionals at the Arizona State Capitol is an infinitesimally small thing compared to the worldwide challenges we all face today.
But the fact that our water professionals remain on the job, doing the essential work of getting vital water where it needs to be when it needs to be there, is not a small matter at all.