Pursuing the goal of safe-yield isn't saving our groundwater

In 1980, the Arizona Legislature passed the Groundwater Management Act after decades of rapid expansion of farms, industries and cities pushed the use of groundwater to unsustainable levels. A key goal of the Groundwater Management Act is to achieve "safe-yield" by 2025. "Safe-yield" is a balance between the amount of groundwater withdrawn and the renewal of that resource in the Phoenix, Tucson and Prescott regions. As Colorado River water becomes less available, parts of Arizona will need to rely more and more on groundwater, increasing the urgency to preserve it as a savings account for a drying future. But less than four years away from 2025, meeting and sustaining this goal will likely be impossible under the Arizona Department of Water Resources’ current regulatory authority. The Myth of Safe-Yield, a new report by the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Morrison Institute, explores what stands in the way of safe-yield and the limits of safe-yield. It offers new strategies and actions that should be considered to secure the long-term sustainability of groundwater in some of Arizona’s most populous regions.