Tucson’s Water Action Plan, Fuzzy Sustainable Development

The City of Tucson and Pima County are collaborating on a region water plan. It’s about time. But you should read the reports: government concepts of priorities might not be the same as those held by property owners and businesses.

Over the past several years, local governments have been devising a plan to maintain and ensure water supply for the future. A “Phase 1” report deals with an inventory of water resources and an assessment of infrastructure. A “Phase 2” report “establishes a framework for sustainable water resources planning including 19 goals and 56 recommendations within four interconnected elements: Water Supply, Demand Management, Comprehensive Integrated Planning, and Respect for Environment.”

The new Action Plan describes a range of activities with time lines to implement the goals and

recommendations in the Phase 2 Report. The City wants your comments.

From my reading of the plan, the City is placing great emphasis on making the Santa Cruz River pretty. That will include riparian restoration projects, a new bureaucracy to propose such projects, and bond elections to buy up land. The report uses fuzzy phrases such as “smart growth” and “sustainable development.” Concerning sustainability, the report admits, ” Our work during Phase I documented how elusive the concept is in practice.”

The Action Plan cites four principles for managing water:

Principle 1: Water is an essential part of life for humans and the environment. Delivery of water and wastewater must maximize both quantity and quality.

Principle 2: The environment must be considered a user, not simply a provider, of water resources.

Principle 3: Policies affecting water and wastewater must be open to wide public discussion in a completely transparent process.

Principle 4: Water is an economically-valued resource and must be managed with due consideration to its economic value.

Your comments are needed to help the City go from concepts to practice.

For some additional background, please read my posts: Water Supply and Demand in Tucson, and How Much Water is There.

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