Western Governors’ Drought Forum in Arizona targets solutions both simple and intricate to manage impact on mining, industry, manufacturing

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MEETING SUMMARY: Read WGA's complete report on the meeting.

MEDIA COVERAGE: Read an Arizona Republic story by reporter Brenna Goth and listen to a report by Andrew Bernier of KJZZ. ALSO: The NOAA Winter Outlook issued Oct. 15 notes there is "at least a 2-in-3 chance that wintertime precipitation will be near or above average throughout (California)." More

The second meeting of the Western Governors’ Drought Forum examined the challenges facing mining, manufacturing and industry during a period of drought. Here are some highlights of “Drought Impacts and Solutions in the Manufacturing, Mining and Industrial Sector,” a two-day meeting (Oct. 7-8) at the Salt River Project PERA Club in Tempe, Ariz. The gathering organized by the Western Governors' Association (WGA) for the Chairman’s Initiative of WGA Chairman and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval was sponsored by the Salt River Project. (See the agenda.)

Keynote: Sandra Fabritz-Whitney, Director of Water Strategy, Freeport-McMoRan

“One thing that we struggle with in Arizona is people telling us we are going to run out of water … We aren’t. People have worked for decades to ensure that we are not going to run out of water.”
rsz fabritz whitney profileSandra Fabritz-Whitney“Our facilities (Freeport-McMoran) are zero discharge facilities. We want to capture every drop of water that leaves an operation to minimize any potential environmental impact, while also conserving water.”
“If the state is going to continue to grow economically, our water supplies must keep pace. Gov. Brewer has launched a planning effort to close the projected future gap between water supplies readily available and where the state needs to be positioned in order for the state economy to grow.”
“Arizona needs to recognize the importance of local neighbors, water providers, and agricultural providers. Those partnerships are where these problems will be solved. Companies like Freeport may be able to solve short-term problems alone, but wide-reaching planning issues can’t be solved alone.”

 Roundtable: Setting the Stage: Drought Impacts in Arizona and the West 

Kevin Werner profileKevin WernerKevin Werner, Western Regional Climate Services Director, NOAA: “We are not out there to do science for science’s sake; we are doing things to help inform decision makers.”
Nancy J. Selover, Ph.D., Arizona State Climatologist: 
“It is important to remember that in arid and semi-arid environments, it is typical to have extreme variability within wet or dry periods. You will likely have a huge spike in rain even during dry periods and vice versa.”
Charlie Ester III, Salt River Project:
 “People ask me if the drought is over. I usually answer, does it matter? Arizona is such a dry climate that planning for drought needs to become the norm, not just something done during dry years.”
“Salt River Project is, above all else, a drought management agency. Our job is to provide water no matter what. That means adapting to meet projected increases in future demand as well as an expected decrease in supply.

View, download the slides for this roundtable.

Roundtable: Drought Impacts and Strategies for the Manufacturing, Mining and Industrial sectors

Leisa Brug, Director, Governor’s Office of Energy: “In terms of water treatment efficiency, using less water means treating less water. We are encouraging system Bill Staudemire profileBill Staudenmaierowners to use best practices like leak detection and benchmarking.. This may sound easy but it is often being overlooked.”
William “Bill” Staudenmaier, Partner, Snell & Wilmer: “Effluent water needs to be addressed as a source of power plant water. It is about as close to a drought-proof water supply source that you will get. As population grows, so does your effluent – and, so does your demand for power.”
Travis Brady, President and CEO, Brady Industries: “Even though (our company) reduced a tremendous amount of water use, the cost of the water didn’t directly justify the investment. It was more about the long-term survivability of our business.”
Steve Schnoor, Director Land Water and Energy, Rio Tinto Kennecott: “Water is essential to our operation. It is used in most facets of mining, so it is incumbent upon us to look at how we are using best practices.”

Case Study: Partnership between Gila River Indian Community & Salt River Project

 The Gila River Indian Community in central Arizona had used irrigation to support agriculture for more than 2,000 years. Diversions and a lack of federal policy to protect the water led to agricultural production declines and famine. Years of litigation led to McJunkin Case Study ProfileChrista McJunkinthe Arizona Water Settlements Act of 2004.

Jason Hauter, Akin Gump, Gila River Indian Community: “The community is not located on the Colorado River -- its claims are to the Gila River and the Salt River. The political reality is that those rights are not available. So the tribes had to make use of the water available on the Colorado River through the Central Arizona Project (CAP). This makes the tribes the single largest customer of CAP water.”
Christa McJunkin, Senior Water Resource Analyst, Salt River Project: “When you have a defined goal, it is easier to come up with a definite fix. When you have multiple stakeholders involved the discussion of a solution is much more involved than with an individual party.”

Read more about the case study or watch a video of the case study.

Drought Forum Case Study Gila River Community Salt River Project

Roundtable: Needs and New Frontiers for Data and Analysis

David Yates, Scientist, Hydrometeorological Applications: “Data integration is very difficult. Bringing observation into models is very difficult. New satellite observations will Room shot profileallow data assimilation to improve.”
Brian Conway, Hydrologist, Arizona Department of Water Resources: “During periods of drought, datasets on groundwater and land subsidence become increasingly important for those making water management decisions. New satellite technology is really helping in this.”
Doug Toy, Water Regulatory Affairs Manager, City of Chandler, Arizona: “We have found that gallons per capita, per day is an inappropriate metric for industrial cities like Chandler. It is more beneficial to look at economic activity per acre-foot. Eventually we would like to take a metric like that and build it into policy making.”

View, download the slides for this roundtable.

DAY 2: Roundtable on Technologies and Innovative Approaches

Robert Lotts, Manager of Water Resources, Arizona Public Service: “We have Business Solutions Teams that are working with industry to develop energy saving Nate Hines profileNate Hinestechnologies. In saving energy, we are also saving water.”
Nate Hines, Principal, Hines, Inc.: “The key to better water management is minor behavioral changes. Roughly 1 million gallons per acre per year is wasted from irrigation, with many sites over-watering by 200%. There is a lot of room for water savings by simply changing this behavior.”
Matt Cook, Water Resources Section Manager, HDR: “The need to be water sustainable for packaged goods is being driven by huge retailers. You need to be able to show sustainability throughout the supply chain. It is a social imperative in the food and beverage sector, because consumers demand it.”
Cheryl Lombard, Government Relations Director, The Nature Conservancy, Arizona: “Many parts of Arizona rely on groundwater and stretching that supply is critical to our future. The time may come for Arizona to talk about expensive infrastructure augmentation, but there is still a lot that can be done now with existing infrastructure to save water and money.”

View, download the slides for this roundtable.

Roundtable: Policy Approaches that help/hinder industry adjusting to drought 

Michael Lacey, Director, Arizona Department of Water Resources: “When you look Michael Lacey profileMichael Laceyat what it took to get the Salt River Project built, the Central Arizona Project built – it was a sustained, multi-generational effort. We are at that point again where we must recognize that we need additional supplies and work towards that point.”
Vanessa Hickman, Arizona State Land Commissioner, Arizona State Land Department: "The Land Department benefits from having land in basins eligible for transportation of groundwater under state law. How to implement this is a lengthy conversation, but it is worth pursuing to make sure the state’s long-term water needs are met.”
Nicole Patterson, Arizona Director, Protect the Flows: “We are building the business voice for sustainable water, water conservation and healthy, flowing rivers. Sustainability is not just a marketing campaign. Conservation of water matters directly to the bottom line.” 

View, download the slides for this roundtable.

Read and download the agenda and a list of attendees. Learn about other Western Governors' Drought Forum meetings here. Don't forget to consult the Western Governors’ Drought Forum online resource library to find a collection of best practices, case studies, resources and news about drought.

The Western Governor’s Drought forum is being conducted in partnership with NOAA’s National Integrated Drought Information System. The Arizona meeting was sponsored by the Salt River Project.

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