As members of the craft brewing community, it’s tempting to remind people that we, a $1.2 billion small business sector in Arizona, are wholly dependent on adequate and reliable water supplies. We could also remind you that our agricultural partners who provide us with the ingredients we need to brew are reliant on the same. But, what’s the point? Everyone and everything in Arizona depend on water. Communities, economies, wildlife, rivers, landscapes—we truly all need reliable water supplies.
In our arid state, we must do more to manage and protect our precious water resources. We are calling on our elected officials to take action during this legislative session. Legislators are currently negotiating the Arizona Water Authority, a proposal to invest more than $1 billion into various projects to boost Arizona’s water reliability and find new water supplies.
We see this moment as a key opportunity to protect Arizona’s water. Sensible water policies will help our state now and into the future.
The proposed Arizona Water Authority could improve Arizona’s water situation by creating a new mechanism for investing in various water projects in our state. For example, it could (and should) include low-interest and forgivable loans and grants to support water providers’ efforts to improve water reliability in their regions. However, we must pair the Arizona Water Authority with legislation that addresses gaps in current Arizona water policy. This includes allowing communities in rural Arizona—those areas outside of the already-protected Active Management Areas (Prescott, Phoenix, and Tucson areas)—to protect their water project investments by opting into groundwater management plans. Without the ability to protect the water they DO have, communities are putting their investments in water projects at risk because there is no way to protect them. In more than 80% of the state, where there are no groundwater protections, the policy seems to be: whoever drills the deepest well wins – a race to the bottom that can leave rivers and our neighbors’ wells dry.
For the Arizona Water Authority to make sense, communities must be able to opt in to locally driven programs and plans to protect their groundwater supplies, and the concept of Rural Management Areas is still before the Arizona Legislature for consideration. Now is the time to pass this critical water legislation.
As craft brewers, water is one of our main ingredients. Our businesses thrive when conditions are stable and predictable. Water is by far our most important resource–without water there is no craft brewing industry. We must pass laws that protect our water supplies and enable its wise management.
Negotiations happening in the legislature right now have a direct impact on our businesses and the communities in which we brew. That is why we are urging our lawmakers to lead on these issues at this important moment. Arizona’s water future is in question, but we can take action before our wells, our rivers, and our taps run dry.