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Water bankruptcy in the land of plenty

Water Bankruptcy in the Land of Plenty

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Water Bankruptcy
in the Land of Plenty


Franck Poupeau
UMI iGLOBES, CNRS/University of Arizona, USA

Hoshin Gupta
Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences,

University of Arizona, USA

Aleix Serrat-Capdevila
UMI iGLOBES CNRS/Department of Hydrology and
Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona, USA

Maria A. Sans-Fuentes
Biosphere 2, University of Arizona, USA

Susan Harris
Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences,
University of Arizona, USA

László G. Hayde
UNESCO-IHE, Institute for Water Education,
Delft, The Netherlands

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Cover illustration: László G. Hayde, Landscape with Saguaros, Tucson region,
Southern Arizona, USA, April 2012
Cover design: Peter Stroo, UNESCO-IHE, Institute for Water Education, Delft,
The Netherlands

© 2016 UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Delft, The Netherlands
Print edition published by: CRC Press/Balkema
P.O. Box 11320, 2301 EH Leiden, The Netherlands
e-mail: Pub .NL@taylorandfrancis.com
www.crcpress.com – www.taylorandfrancis.com
CRC Press/Balkema is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business
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Printed and Bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY
Although all care is taken to ensure integrity and the quality of this publication
and the information herein, no responsibility is assumed by the publishers nor the
author for any damage to the property or persons as a result of operation or use
of this publication and/or the information contained herein.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Applied for
ISBN: 978-1-138-02969-9 (Pbk), Taylor & Francis Group
ISBN: 978-1-4987-7699-8 (eBook PDF), UNESCO-IHE, Delft, The Netherlands
All rights reserved.
A pdf version of this work will be made available in open access via
http://repository.tudelft.nl/ihe/. This version is licensed under the Creative
Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License,

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Table of contents

List of Acronyms


1 The idea of a transatlantic dialogue


2 Organization of the book and mind map




Socio-historic perspectives on water in the American southwest


3 The Tucson basin


4 Laws of the river


5 Water for a new America


6 Sharing the Colorado River


7 The making of water policy


Narratives of urban growth


8 The social logic of urban sprawl


9 Water and urban development challenges of urban growth



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vi Table of contents

10 Comprehensive urban planning


11 Potential impacts of the continuing urbanization on regional climate


Ecosystem services and biodiversity


12 Quantification of water-related ecosystem services


13 Qualitative assessment of supply and demand of ecosystem services


14 The role of biodiversity in the hydrological cycle


Water use and groundwater management


15 Implications of spatially neutral groundwater management


16 Groundwater dynamics


17 Alternative water sources towards increased resilience


18 Differentiated approaches of groundwater management


Stakeholders’ perspectives


19 Presentation


20 Texts




21 Bringing all the stories together: Beyond the Tucson case study


22 Next steps: Collaborative research and training
towards transdisciplinarity


Contents (full titles and authorship)
Subject Index

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List of Acronyms

ADEQ Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
ADWR Arizona Department of Water Resources
AMA Active Management Areas
ARS Arizona Revised Statutes
AWBA Arizona Water Banking Authority
AWS Assured Water Supply (AWS) certificate
BCPA Boulder Canyon Project Act
BOR Bureau of Reclamation
BSC Biological Soil Crusts
CAGRD Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment Districts
CALS College of Agriculture and Life Science
CAP Central Arizona Project
CAPA CAP Association
CAPLA College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture
CAWCD Central Arizona Water Conservation District
CGMI Citizen’s Growth Management Initiative
CICES Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services
CLS Conservation Lands System
CNRS Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
DEM Digital Elevation Model
DOI Department of the Interior

Environmental Impact Statement

GCASE Groundwater, Climate and Stakeholder Engagement
GIS Geographical Information System
GMA Groundwater Management Act of 1980
GSFs Groundwater Saving Facilities
GUAC Groundwater Users Advisory Councils
HOAs Home Owners’ Associations
HRUs Hydrological Response Units
HWB Human Well-Being Submodel
IID Imperial Irrigation District
INAs Irrigation Non-expansion Areas
IPAG Institutional and Policy Advisory Group

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List of Acronyms


International Union for Conservation of Nature

LSM Land Surface Model
LTSC Long-Term Storage Credits
LULC Land Use and Land Cover
MA Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
MAF Million Acre Feet
MLP Market Land-Price Submodel
MuSIASEM Multiscale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystems Metabolism
NARR North American Regional Reanalysis
NEPA National Environmental Policy Act
NIMBY Not In My Back Yard
PAMA Phoenix Active Management Area
PDI Precipitation Drought Index
PSWP Pacific Southwest Water Plan
PVA Public Values Assessment
RAMS Regional Atmospheric Modeling System
ROD Record of Decision
RWH Rainwater Harvesting
SALC Southern Arizona Leadership Council
SBS College of Social Behavioral Sciences
SCWEPM Santa Cruz Watershed Ecosystem Portfolio Model
SDCP Sonoran Desert Conservation
SDWA Safe Drinking Water Act
SPRC Southern Pacific Railway Company
SRP Salt River Project
SWAN Sustainable Water Action Network Project
SWAT Soil and Water Assessment Tool
TDS Total Dissolved Solids
TDW Transatlantic Dialogue on Water
TEEB The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity
TEP Tucson Electric Power
UCM Urban Canopy Model
UK NEA UK National Ecosystem Assessment
UMI International Centre for “Water, Environment and Public Policy” CNRSUniversity of Arizona
UMI-iGLOBES Interdisciplinary and Global Environmental Studies, CNRS-University
of Arizona
USFs Underground Storage Facilities
WAAs Water Accounting Areas
WCPA Water Consumer Protection Act
WFD Water Framework Directive
WRDC Water Resource Development Commission
WRES Water-Related Ecosystem Services
WRF Weather Research and Forecasting model

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By all standards, water is today’s most coveted resource, and it will continue to be so
in the future. Most observers generally agree that, with continued population growth,
conflicts around water are likely to harden, and will involve severe risks of social and
political unrest, both in the South and in the North. Worrying trends include recurring flooding, increasing volatility of resource availability, the melting of glaciers (and
consequent sea level rise), resource contamination due to industrial pollution, degradation of soils due to intensive farming, and insufficient access to adequate sanitation,
but also, and most of all, drought. In this context, the semi-arid Southwestern United
States, which is currently enduring its most severe “drought” to date, is of considerable scientific and political interest.
Droughts are not uncommon in the Southwest. Advances in paleo-climate reconstruction and instrumental records have revealed that several major droughts have
occurred in the region during the past 200 years. However, projected changes in climate and an over-exploitation of resources are generally considered as primary causes
of ecological disasters that may be expected to follow. Of course, to reduce the complexity of this phenomenon to simply a matter of “scarcity of natural resources” would
ignore the fact that the character of a drought has many dimensions, including meteorological (prolonged below-average precipitation), hydrologic (the manifestation of
meteorological drought as reduced streamflow and depleted aquifers), agricultural
(driven by, and impacts to, agriculture demand) and socioeconomic (driven by, and
impacts to, other socio-economic sectors). While drought can be viewed as a perturbation imposed upon a coupled natural and human system, the resulting scarcity of water
is clearly the product of a complex interplay between physical availability, the operation of the environment, and the behaviors of human and the demands they impose.
In other words, the public narratives of “drought” and “water scarcity” are,
in today’s world, largely a social construct associated with progressive economic
growth and a widespread adoption of consumptive lifestyles. Regardless of whether
the scarcity of water is actually due to natural climatic variability, global warming,
hydrologic change, land cover change, or the ever growing urban and agro-industrial
pressures placed on a finite resource, the public focus is most often on the insufficiency of physical supply and the perceived “scarcity” of natural resources, rather
than on the analysis of human processes that mediate the governance and management of that water.
This book proposes and explores the purposely provocative notion of “water
bankruptcy” so as to emphasize the socio-economic dimension of water issues in the

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Southwestern US (and primarily Arizona), between the narratives of growth and the
strategies or policies adopted to pursue competing agendas and circumvent the inevitable. Given the long-term trend of development in this region, the current drought
might indeed present a window of opportunity in which to induce change, and to
challenge the hegemonic discourse that governs the management of water resources
in the American Southwest. Importantly, the situation may present an opportunity to
deal with threats that derive from imbalances between growth patterns and available
resources, the primary cause of scarcity.
A first of its kind, developed through close collaboration among a broad range
of natural scientists, social scientists, and resource managers from Europe and the
United States, this book is a committed step towards the collective implementation of
a transdisciplinary approach to unveiling the inner workings of how water is fought
for, allocated and used in the Southwestern US. It offers an innovative scientific perspective that dissects the conflicted relationship that societies engage in with the environment. It produces a critical diagnostic evaluation of water problems in the West,
with a particular view to identifying risks for the Tucson area in Arizona (which is
facing continuous urban sprawl and economic growth). The book presents a diversity
of complementary perspectives, including a discussion of natural resources, biodiversity & their management in Arizona, an analysis of the stalemates in drought management and their roots in the history of water policy, and an assessment of ecosystem
services in the context of both local biodiversity and the economic activities (such as
mines and agriculture) that sustain economic growth. Finally, this book is a concerted
effort to explore the interplay between a variety of related scientific disciplines including climatology, hydrology, water management, ecosystem services, societal metabolism, water governance, political economy and social science.
Franck Poupeau
UMI iGLOBES, CNRS/University of Arizona, USA
Hoshin Gupta
Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences,
University of Arizona, USA
Aleix Serrat-Capdevila
UMI iGLOBES CNRS/Department of Hydrology and
Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona, USA
Maria A. Sans-Fuentes
Biosphere 2, University of Arizona, USA
Susan Harris
Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences,
University of Arizona, USA
László G. Hayde
UNESCO-IHE, Institute for Water Education,
Delft, The Netherlands


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Chapter 1

The idea of a transatlantic dialogue
The SWAN Consortium

This book sits at the nexus of a broad range of disciplines, perspectives and geographic
locations. It was developed in the course of a four-year international cooperation
project entitled SWAN (Sustainable Water ActioN: Building Research Links between
European Union and United States) that was funded by the European Union under
its 7th Framework Program (FP7-INCOLAB-2011) to incentivize international
collaboration on water related issues.
This introduction describes, briefly, how this collaborative cross-disciplinary
exploration between multiple research areas, users, management agencies and
institutions came about, and discusses how the participants collaborated to integrate
methods, to identify overlaps and connections between research areas, and to arrive
at the realization that a holistic approach can be much more than the sum of its
parts. The setting for this collaboration was the Tucson Basin, which provides a
natural basis for anchoring methods and approaches to a contextual reality with
transdisciplinary needs. The various chapters in this book tell the stories of humans
and their environment and how their interactions have unfolded, until being threatened
nowadays by the risks of “water bankruptcy” in the American Southwest.
The general objective of the SWAN project was to strengthen European research
capacity in the USA, to promote competitiveness of European research and industry,
and to inform and involve policy-makers and the general public. It included participants from five member states of the European Union (Bulgaria, France, Netherlands,
Spain and the United Kingdom) and from the University of Arizona (USA). The project was coordinated by the French CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), represented by the UMI iGLOBES.1
The scientific goal of this collaboration was to develop a Transatlantic Dialogue on
Water (TDW), with a view to building a major international network that can facilitate
the collaboration of scientists and students with stakeholders and communities.
The idea of the TDW is to bridge across multiple scientific disciplines, institutional
participations, and international perspectives, with the working hypothesis that it is
necessary to apply multifaceted approaches that combine natural and social sciences

1 iGLOBES (Interdisciplinary and Global Environmental Research) is an international joint unit created
by the French CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) and the College of Science of the
University of Arizona. iGLOBES and the former Department of Hydrology (now Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences) collaborated in the frame of the SWAN project.

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4 Water bankruptcy in the land of plenty

into a new paradigm that explores new governance perspectives and is capable of
dealing with both the uncertainty and complexity inherent in water related issues.
With this perspective, the TDW constitutes a platform for bringing together research,
education and knowledge exchange at both national and international levels. The
research component constitutes a major pillar for knowledge exchange via training
of students and interaction with stakeholders. The knowledge exchange is being
accomplished through periodic extended research stays of European students at the
international joint unit iGLOBES at the University of Arizona, and by bi-annual meetings of the SWAN teams, thereby making possible the collaborative research endeavor
that has given rise to this book.
During the project, the scientific perspective shifted progressively towards the use
of “big data” in support of the management of water, by examining the (open) sociotechnical conditions required to access such data, and by examining the (knowledge)
capacities necessary to ensure their utilization (Pedregal et al., 2015). This idea of
“open knowledge” now appears as a key concept underpinning the production of
new forms of scientific work and public participation with stakeholders, thereby
constituting the core of the project and supporting the objective of transdisciplinarity. In contrast with multi-disciplinary approaches, transdisciplinarity engenders a
framework in which researchers can both work in parallel in a traditional disciplinary fashion and also in interactive and interdisciplinary fashion to address a common problem, while taking account of the multiple perspectives of stakeholders and
the general public (Rosenfeld, 1992). While this book, the short-term product of a
research grant, does not fully realize the ideal of transdisciplinarity, the desire to
achieve such an approach has served as a guiding principle for the international
research teams involved in the project. Certainly we share a common conviction that
dealing with water related issues requires new approaches to knowledge production
that incorporate multiple scientific, professional and public perspectives.
What has become clear to us is that the complexity inherent in the management
of water increasingly necessitates a combination of approaches that draw from the
physical, environmental and social sciences, and that are open to and validated by civil
society. This awareness results from a need to acknowledge “the unavoidable existence
of non-equivalent perceptions and representations of reality, contrasting but legitimate
perspectives found among social actors, and heavy levels of uncertainty” (see Funtowicz
and Ravetz 1991, 1993, and Giampietro et al. 2012, among others). The natural result
is a paradigm shift in the management of natural resources (see Pahl-Wostl et al.,
2011, Del Moral et al., 2014, among others) that is characterized by a reorientation in
objectives, methodologies and evaluation criteria, by the involvement of a broad variety of agents, and by a significant restructuring of institutional frameworks.
So it is useful, while reading this book, to remember that human problems that resist
easy solution are typically characterized by (Hernández-Mora and Del Moral, 2015):

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Complexity: The human dimension introduces reflexivity into the managed system, while ecological systems respond to pressures and interventions in non-linear
and unpredictable ways, so that socio-ecological systems are often characterized
by non-predictable and unexpected responses.
Uncertainty: The technical solutions and tools provided by science cannot hope
to accurately represent the total system and all of its interactions in all their

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The idea of a transatlantic dialogue


complexity, even with sophisticated models, modelers and computers (Giampetro
et al., 2006).
Incommensurability: It is, in practice, impossible to construct a single
computational model that comprehensively represents the heterogeneity of
information, different kinds of disciplinary knowledge and descriptions of reality,
and different but legitimate values, perceptions and interests that can be ascribed
to non-equivalent descriptive domains (Funtowizc and Ravetz 1994).

The complexity makes it necessary to develop dynamic and adaptive approaches
to resource management (Brookshire et al., 2012). The uncertainty (arising from lack
of data and/or background information regarding the system under study) unavoidably requires us to simplify our scientific models (Gupta et al., 2012). And the incommensurability makes it necessary to investigate the range of alternative potential
solutions, without explicit or implicit a priori weighting of priorities and relevance
(for instance by monetizing all aspects of existing alternatives).
If we add to these the facts that a) cultural, political and ideological frameworks
implicitly condition the context within which such model development occurs (i.e., the
roles of “meaning” and “value” cannot be ignored), and b) it is not uncommon (due to
outright ignorance) for us to ‘not know what we ignore’ (Wynne, 1993), it becomes inescapable that knowledge must necessarily be co-produced. So, it is not possible to produce
satisfactory answers to water management challenges via the “old” approach of simply
bringing “technical” expertise to bear. Further, in that approach, claims for the legitimacy
of specific interventions tend to reside exclusively in the realms of authority and privileged knowledge – the prevailing “state-engineering paradigm” that has over-determined
water management for more than a century (Staddon 2010). We must instead adopt a
participatory approach to governance that implies collaborative research at each step of
the management process – in the definition of the problem, in establishing the range of
options, in selecting the range of acceptable solutions, and in designing the indicators used
to monitor and guide the process (Lorrain & Poupeau, 2016) – so that true legitimacy can
be achieved via a shared vision of both the problem and the equitable solution set.
As expressed, in part, by this book, the TDW has sought to take this evolving
water management paradigm into account while developing and supporting new
forms of collaborative research that bridge across disciplines and incorporate the
views of non-academic stakeholders. This book can be read as a first step in our
journey towards a realization of the ideal of transdisciplinarity.
Brookshire, D., Gupta, H.V. and Matthews, O.P. (Editors) (2012). Water Policy in New
Mexico: Addressing the Challenge of an Uncertain Future, RFF Press, Resources for the
Future Book Series: Issues in Water Resources Policy Series. ISBN 978-1-933115-99-3.
Del Moral, L., Pita, M.F., Pedregal, B., Hernández-Mora, N., Limones, N. (2014) Current
paradigms in the management of water: Resulting information needs. In: Antti Roose (ed.)
Progress in water geography- Pan-European discourses, methods and practices of spatial
water research, Publicationes Instituti Geographici Universitatis Tartuensis 110, Institute
of Ecology and Earth Sciences, Department of Geography. University of Tartu, pp: 21–31.
ISBN 978-9985-4-0825-4.

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6 Water bankruptcy in the land of plenty
Funtowicz, S.O. and Ravetz, J.R. (1991). A New Scientific Methodology for Global
Environmental Issues, in Robert Costanza (ed.) Ecological Economics: The Science and
Management of Sustainability, New York: Columbia University Press: 137–152.
Funtowicz, S.O. and Ravetz, J.R. (1993). Uncertainty and quality in science for policy,
Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Funtowicz, S. and Ravetz, J.R. (1994). The worth of a songbird: ecological economicsas a postnormal science, Ecological Economics, 10: 197–207.
Giampietro, M., Allen, T.F.H. and Mayumi, K. (2006). The Epistemological predicament
associated with purposive quantitative analysis, Ecological Complexity, 3(4): 307–327.
Giampietro, M., Mayumi, K. and Sorman, A.H. (2012). The Metabolic Pattern of Societies.
Where Economists Fall Short. London and New York: Routledge.
Gupta, H.V., Brookshire, D.S., Tidwell, V. and Boyle, D. (2012). Modeling: A Basis for Linking
Policy to Adaptive Water Management, Chapter 2 in Brookshire D., Gupta H.V. and
P. Matthews (Editors), Water Policy in New Mexico: Addressing the Challenge of an Uncertain Future, RFF Press, Resources for the Future Book Series: Issues in Water Resources
Policy Series.
Hernández-Mora, N. and Del Moral, L. (2015) Evaluation of the Water Framework Directive
Implementation Process in Europe, SWAN Project, Deliverable 3.2, online: https://swanproject.arizona.edu/sites/default/files/Deliverable_3_2.pdf.
Lorrain, D. and Poupeau, F. (2016). The protagonists of the Water Sector and their Practices.
Socio-technical Systems in a Combinatory Perspective, Introduction to: Lorrain, D. and
Poupeau, F. (Editors), Water Regimes: Beyond the Public and Private Sector Debate,
London, Routledge, Earthscan Series.
Pahl-Wostl, C., Jeffrey, P., Isendahl, N. and Brugnach M. (2011). Maturing the New Water
Management Paradigm: Progressing from Aspiration to practice, Water Resources
Management, 25: 837–856.
Pedregal, B., Del Moral, L., Cabello, V., Hernández-Mora, N. and Limones, N. (2015).
Information and knowledge for water governance in the networked society, Water
Alternatives 8(2): 1–19.
Rosenfield, P.L. (1992). The potential of transdisciplinary research for sustaining and extending
linkages between the health and social sciences, Social Science and Medicine, 35: 1343–57.
Staddon, C. (2010). Managing Europe’s Water: 21st century challenges, Farnham, Ashgate
Wynne, B. (1993). Public uptake of science: a case for institutional reflexivity, Public
Understanding of Science, 2(4): 321–337.

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Chapter 2

Organization of the book
and mind map

This book is about the physical and socio-economic roles played by water in the
Southwestern US, with a primary focus on Tucson, Arizona. In the context of continued population growth, together with the fact that periods of drought are common in
the Southwest and that the climate can be expected to change due to global warming,
it is not unreasonable to expect that water will become increasingly scarce (leading to
a “water bankruptcy”) and that conflicts around water may increase. Such scarcity
is, however, not a purely physical phenomenon, but results from a complex interplay
between physical availability, the dynamics of the environment, and the behaviors of
human and the demands they impose.
The chapters in this book explore both the physical and the socio-economic
dimensions of water issues. Accordingly, the material is organized into four main sections, dealing progressively with the “Socio-Historic Perspective” regarding the evolution of laws and water policy, a discussion of the implications of “Urban Growth”
driven by expansion of the population, a discussion of “Ecosystem Services” and how
water and the biodiversity it supports together serve the needs of both humans and the
natural environment, and finally a discussion of how strategies for “Water Use and
Groundwater Management” have evolved to deal with water scarcity, and of how
successful such strategies have been.
The four sections are followed by a collection of perspectives on water issues
offered by professionals from different sectors and stakeholder representatives. Finally,
the concluding section describes how this collective investigation was built (“Bringing
The Stories Together”), synthesizes the material provided herein, and reflects (“Next
Steps: Collaborative Research and Training for Transdisciplinarity”) on what has
been learned about the water problems of the Southwestern US and about the nature
of transdisciplinary investigation and education.
Also provided is a ‘Mind Map’ that helps to visually link all of the various research
perspectives presented in this book.



The first section (Chapters 3–7) explores the human factors related to water supply
and demand in the Southwestern US. Setting the stage where the research in this
book unfolds, Chapter 3 (The Tucson Basin) provides an overview of the physical

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8 Water bankruptcy in the land of plenty

context of the Tucson region and southern Arizona, as well as its human history
until the present. The basin and range landscape and climate of the region endow
it with unique hydrologic and ecological characteristics that have conditioned the
lifestyles and struggles of the local human populations and have influenced their
evolving relationship with the land, water and the environment. The chapter ends
by touching on some of the current management challenges faced by the Tucson
Chapter 4 (Laws of the River) then provides a historical account of laws and
agreements framing water management in the West; it examines the primary legal
doctrines and rulings that have affected water allocation, thereby constituting the
so-called ‘Law of the River’. Important historical highlights include: (i) the 1908
Supreme Court ruling that established the concept of federal reserved water rights
that provided water to Native American reservations and reserved senior water rights
for beneficial uses such as agriculture, (ii) the doctrine of ‘prior appropriation’, that
asserts that water rights arise from beneficial use and established a priority system
among water users, (iii) the Colorado River Compact of 1922 that governs the allocation of water rights among the US states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming,
Nevada, Arizona and California, and the country Mexico, (iv) the Colorado River
Basin Project Act of 1968 that allowed Arizona to proceed with construction of the
Central Arizona Project Canal, and (v) the Arizona Groundwater Management Act
of 1980 that established the first meaningful groundwater management law in the
state’s history. Importantly, the account illustrates how Western water management
has moved away from traditional forms of conflict (litigation and court action), and
resulted in the development of novel institutional tools that stress cooperation and
consensus. It shows clearly that water policy involves a great deal more than managing flows, it also involves managing trust, people, and political power and even the
forces of domination, which may often be implicit and charged with a particularized
and historical energy. The modern form of struggle in policymaking, therefore, is less
about taming the waters of the Colorado River and more about the struggle to reach
Chapters 5 and 6 together discuss the historical and social forces that led to
the construction of the Central Arizona Project (CAP), a canal that carries Arizona’s
share of Colorado River water to its major urban centers. They examine the social history of water policy in the western US, and pay particular attention to the consequent
social conflicts that arose among the various economic, political and administrative
coalitions that formed to advance their respective interests and visions of the world.
These chapters make a distinction between two phases of Western water policy, a first
phase (late 19th century to 1920s) corresponding to the genesis of federal action, and
a second phase (1920 to 1970) characterized by a shift from federal to regional decision making, in which the battle between Arizona and California for Colorado River
water occurred, culminating in development of the CAP.
Chapter 5 (Water for a New America) addresses the first phase, discussing: (i) the
transition from subsistence to commercial agriculture, growing “market” orientation,
and the dominance of banks, railway companies, large-scale manufacturers, and farm
product suppliers at the end of the 19th century; (ii) the Reclamation Act of 1902
that was intended to usher in a “New America” of small agricultural landowners but
which instead helped to shore up the political and economic power brokers of the

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Organization of the book and mind map


region; and (iii) the Roosevelt administrations’ focus on infrastructure projects as the
way to clamber out of the Great Depression.
Chapter 6 (Sharing the Colorado River) continues the story by investigating
the historical and social forces that contributed to the construction of the CAP. It
discusses how the sociological struggle between the various coalitions gradually
shifted from the level of disagreements between the states (and the federal government) to local tensions over the viability of the CAP. Major aspects include: (i)
Arizona’s use of the US Supreme Court as an arbiter in regards to its sovereignty
and legitimacy over the Colorado River; (ii) the attitudes of Arizona’s elites, in the
face of unprecedented demographic growth and the significant seasonal migration
in a region where groundwater aquifers were gradually drying up due to the needs
of agriculture; (iii) the 1948 creation of the Arizona Interstate Stream Commission
to fight for the state’s share of Colorado River water; (iv) the economic shift in
the 1950’s away from agriculture as the main source of wealth; (v) the Colorado
River Basin Act of 1968 that was produced by a compromise between the various
forces at play; (vi) the 1970s rise of the environmentalist movement; (vii) the 1980
Groundwater Management Act that instituted an innovative approach to managing groundwater and introduced limits to the expansion of irrigation; and (viii)
the eventual delivery of CAP water to Tucson in 1992 and the subsequent tensions
that arose among economic leaders, citizen organizations, local politicians and the
utility companies. As shown by this discussion, water policies in the West are the
product of temporary alliances between various economic, political, and administrative coalitions who regard water as an engine for economic development and
political power.
Finally Chapter 7 (The Making of Water Policy) of this section provides a sociological analysis of how water conflicts are inscribed within spaces of power. In contrast to narratives such as Cadillac Desert (Reisner, 1986), which illustrate the brute
(and indeed brutal) force of economics, this chapter points out that water development
in the West has involved a struggle over what constitutes the legitimate principles of
vision and division of the world and its development. Beginning with the John Wesley
Powell vision of settlers organizing themselves into ‘cooperative commonwealths’,
this chapter discusses: (i) the political maneuvering that resulted in the 1902 Federal
Reclamation Act whereby the federal government and an array of powerful economic
forces took over the development of water infrastructure, gradually transforming the
West into a breadbasket and economic powerhouse; (ii) the resulting concentration of
power in a politico-bureaucratic elite, with the attendant shift from water viewed as a
biological necessity (as in subsistence economies characteristic of traditional societies)
to water viewed instead as a commodity valued for its role in economic production;
(iii) the growing concerns about the legitimacy of this system, its role in promoting
increasing levels of inequality, and the need for a focus on the conservation of nature,
leading to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970; and (iv) the replacement
of the old system by one which is more receptive to citizens, and enables the public
to lay claim to cultural attachments that cannot be reduced to monetary evaluation.
In summary, this chapter poses the issue of water management as occurring within a
field of struggle wherein the dominant groups must constantly refine and demonstrate
the legitimacy of their perspective(s) in the face of the continuing involvement of other

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10 Water bankruptcy in the land of plenty



The next section (Chapters 8–11) explores the role played by population growth, and
in particular urbanization, in regards to the demand and supply of water in the region.
It begins, Chapter 8 (The Social Logic of Urban Sprawl), with a discussion of the how
and why urban centers in Arizona tend to sprawl out over the local countryside due
to social and environmental pressures, even though one might expect that the poor
availability of water would tend to restrict growth. Certainly, sprawl is driven to a
significant degree by the actions of a “pro-growth” coalition composed of public and
private actors, including the real estate industry, and is enabled by new flows of water
brought to the region via the CAP canal. Interviews conducted with both developers
and city managers provide insights into their perspectives regarding “sustainability”.
Chapter 9 (Water and Urban Development Challenges of Urban Growth) continues this discussion by examining whether sustainable urban growth is possible in
the context of available supplies of water and wastewater, for different urban settings
and environmental conditions. It reviews the economic and demographic changes that
occurred in the Tucson Metropolitan Region after the end of World War II, and the
implementation of multiple strategies to establish diversified water supply sources,
including: a) use of reclaimed water on parks and golf courses; b) recycled wastewater
for indirect potable use; and c) recharge of effluent into aquifers. It discusses three
main patterns of urban growth that result from the combination of land development and water/wastewater access – “urban expansion”, “leap-frog development”
and “wildcat development”.
Next, Chapter 10 (Comprehensive Urban Planning) examines the implementation of environmental policies in Pima County and the city of Tucson, by reviewing
the role and evolution of urban planning. It supplements the discussion with practical
insights provided via interviews conducted with the Pima Services Department, the
Pima County Planning Division-Comprehensive Plan, and the City of Tucson Housing
& Community Development Department. A core concept that emerges is that of the
integration of scientific disciplines, approaches and experiences within a coordinated
dialogue between the social, natural and engineering sciences. Further, the chapter
points to the spatial mismatch that can occur between different planning scales, and
the difficulties that can arise in relation to the adjustment of the different hydrographic,
socio-economic and jurisdictional aspects involved. The chapter concludes that there
is room for greater efforts to be made to effectively engage society in comprehensive
planning decision-making, especially in relation to water in this arid region.
Finally, Chapter 11 (Potential Impacts of Continuing Urbanization on Regional
Climate) discusses how the growth of the “Sun Corridor”, which is rapidly filling
in the space between Phoenix and Tucson, is likely to result in climatic changes that
urban and regional managers will have to deal with. Urban expansion changes the
physical environment by altering the albedo, heat capacity, and thermal conductivity of the land surface, thereby changing the energy balance of the region. Detailed
simulations, conducted using a coupled model of the land surface and the atmosphere,
show that while projected changes in urban land cover between 2005 and 2050 are
unlikely to alter precipitation patterns, they will strengthen the “urban heat island”
effect and increase the demand for water and energy supply to levels that are not

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Organization of the book and mind map




The third section (Chapters 12–14) explores the interplay between humans, water,
and the environment. It begins, Chapter 12 (Quantification of Water-Related Ecosystem Services), with a discussion of Water-Related Ecosystem Services (WRES)
provided to society by the Upper Santa Cruz watershed, and how these services are
affected by changing land use. In particular, the study shows that forested lands provide the highest levels of supply of WRES in the region, and that a variety of urban
growth scenarios all can be expected to result in a decreasing trend in the supply of
almost all services provided by the current ecosystem.
Chapter 13 (Qualitative Assessment of Supply and Demand of Ecosystem
Services) continues with a survey and interview-based assessment of the perceived
current levels of supply and demand for ecosystem services in the Pantano Wash
watershed, in both time and space. The resulting maps display spatial and temporal
mismatches in supply and demand, that can inform water planning efforts, and facilitate the optimization of strategies for sustainable management in which a balance is
sought between the provision of natural resources and the demands imposed by a
myriad of interests. Moreover, they provide support for cooperative decision-making
and resource planning by illuminating perceptions that exist regarding the importance
of various ecosystem goods and services.
Finally, Chapter 14 (The Role of Biodiversity in the Hydrological Cycle) discusses the need for water management strategies in the Southwestern US to take into
consideration the negative effects that increasing aridity (due to changing climate) is
likely to have on biodiversity in the region. Loss of biodiversity can be expected to
alter the balance of Ecosystem Services. However, surprisingly little is known about
how soil-dwelling and burrowing species change the permeability of the soil and
thereby affect the hydrological cycle, and this chapter points out the need for more
research in this area so that such information can be incorporated into water management and biodiversity conservation programs.



The fourth section (Chapters 15–18) investigates the attempts to achieve sustainability that have been implemented in the Tucson Basin. It begins, Chapter 15 (Implications of Spatially Neutral Groundwater Management), with a historical perspective
on water use in the area, and on the changes induced by the arrival of CAP water
from the Colorado River, with attention to the impacts that conservation programs
have had on municipal and agricultural water demand, and on the spatial distribution
of groundwater dynamics (recharge, pumping and water levels). The study uses the
Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism (MuSIASEM)
framework to analyze available data on water use, a variety of socioeconomic variables, and groundwater management, showing that the CAP served as a tipping
point in the water metabolism, by multiplying the sources available while increasing
infrastructural and institutional complexity, thereby fueling economic development.

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12 Water bankruptcy in the land of plenty

It reviews the impacts that strategies of “conservation”, “growth control” and
“replacement of groundwater with CAP supply” have had on various sectors, and
highlights the facts that a) vulnerability to potential Colorado water shortages and b)
uncertainties regarding the ability to achieve and maintain distributed safe yield will
continue to be core management issues over the next decade.
Chapter 16 (Groundwater Dynamics) investigates the problem of how the
dynamics of groundwater aquifers that serve the Tucson Basin are affected by natural
cycles of drought at irregular inter-annual and seasonal time scales, by analyzing water
tables and stream flows datasets. While drought cannot be avoided, proper planning
can help to mitigate its environmental and social effects. The study shows that in
recent years, when CAP deliveries were used to substitute for pumping, the onset of
a ‘groundwater drought’ following a ‘precipitation drought’ was delayed by about
3.5 years, which means that the time when a hydrogeological drought can be expected
to occur in the Upper Santa Cruz can be anticipated. However, when groundwater
was pumped instead of using CAP deliveries (1980–2000): a) the pattern is much less
obvious and is masked by human pumping; and b) the onset of ‘groundwater drought’
in response to ‘precipitation drought’ tends to be much more immediate, with a more
rapid decline in groundwater levels.
Chapter 17 (Alternative Water Sources towards Increased Resilience) assesses
the sustainability of water use in the Tucson Basin, and discusses feasible alternative options that might be pursued to increase resilience and help to fill future gaps
between demand and supply. The investigation, based on comments and observations
solicited from a diverse group of local water managers and stakeholders, discusses
problem solving approaches and management strategies that have been proposed
to help balance the water budget. Further, it provides a critical analysis of current
and future water resource uses, projects and policies, and examines use of innovative
approaches such as rainwater harvesting, storm water capture, grey-water systems,
and use of reclaimed water for indirect and direct potable re-use. The chapter concludes that these alternative water sources are underexploited and hold significant
potential to offset groundwater pumping, and that sustainability can best be accomplished through water management approaches that combine gray- and green-infrastructure that recognizes and nurtures ecosystem services within urban landscapes
and the broader basin.
Finally Chapter 18 (Differentiated Approaches of Groundwater Management)
compares the changes in water use and current water practices that have occurred
in the Tucson Active Management Area (TAMA), with those that have occurred in
the neighboring Upper San Pedro (USP) basin. Whereas the TAMA operates under
the state regulatory structure, the USP basin (which was not designated as an Active
Management Area) benefits from a partnership established between governmental
and non-governmental entities. In both cases, municipal demand has declined and, by
that assessment, the management measures can be deemed successful. However, while
agricultural demand has been reduced significantly in the USP Basin, there has been
little change in the TAMA. Similarly, there have been differences in the growth of
new development, and the effects of needing to certify an ‘assured water supply’ must
be more fully considered. In neither basin have the problems of groundwater depletion been solved, nor has either safe or sustainable yield been achieved. The chapter
concludes that a) the Groundwater Management Act should be revisited to determine

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Organization of the book and mind map


if it is achieving its policy goals, and b) consideration needs to be given to the use of
water by natural ecosystems in the TAMA.



The fifth section of the book (Chapters 19–20) is a collection of written perspectives
that was solicited from various stakeholders who have been involved, in one way
or another, in helping to guide the investigations reported in this book. Rather than
a unified vision, this chapter represents the diverse and sometimes opposing views
that reflect the opinions and interests of various stakeholder communities. It is clear
from these perspectives that the task of finding a middle ground for the benefit of
the community as a whole (in the form of tradeoff solutions that balance the wide
spectrum of preferences and values) remains a major challenge for planning, policy
and management.



Finally, the last section of the book (Chapters 21–22) integrates the main findings,
insights and recommendations from the various book chapters, and reflects on what
has been learned through the investigations reported herein.
Chapter 21 (Bringing all the stories together) summarizes important conclusions and recommendations from the book chapters, and discusses how the participants in the Sustainable Action Water Network (SWAN) project, drawn from a
variety of social and natural science disciplines, collaborated in an effort to bring
a transdisciplinary perspective to the study of water in the Tucson Basin. Major
insights from the book’s chapters are woven together here, providing recommendations that may be useful to planners and decision-makers. While it is arguable
whether true transdisciplinarity was actually achieved, the collaboration provided
a very valuable learning experience and also resulted in the materials that form the
basis for this book.
Finally, Chapter 22 (Next Steps) concludes this book with a broad overview of
what has been learned though this collaborative research endeavor, and provides
some recommendations for others interested in pursuing such an endeavor.

To aid in synthesis the information included in this book, Figure 1 presents a ‘Mind
Map’ that provides a visual perspective on how the various issues discussed in this book
are connected. While there are many ways in which these concepts can be arranged
(in keeping with the reality of multiple perspectives), here we have conceived of the
main areas of investigation being the Natural and Social Sciences, and the Natural
and Human Systems. The severe risks associated with poor solutions to water management problems lead naturally to the need for an encompassing transdisciplinary
perspective (as discussed extensively in the latter part of this book), and ultimately

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POUPEAU_Book.indb 14






Ecosystems Services
Regional Climate
Urban heat island

Natural Science

Social Sciences

Water Bankruptcy
Water Scarcity

Water tables Groundwater
Rivers Watersheds
Recharge Soil permeability
Precipitation drought
Groundwater drought

Human Systems

Natural Systems


Multiple Perspectives
Open Knowledge
Big Data
Role of Science
New Ways of Thinking



Social Equity

Water governance
Management & Policy
Political economy
Social metabolism
Water conflicts
Cultural Values
Economic growth
Urban growth Urban planning
Growth Corridors
Groundwater pumping
Rainwater harvesting
Infrastructures Grey/Green infrastructure
Grey-water systems
Storm water capture
Reclaimed water

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