Water policy expert updates Rotarians on Colorado River Sustainability

Rotary Club of Scottsdale President-elect Christopher West, Sarah Porter, water policy expert, and Rotarian Jerry Palmer greet club members and guests at recent luncheon meeting. (Submitted photo)

Sarah Porter, director of John Kyl Center for Water Policy at The Morrison Institute, Arizona State University, recently was keynote speaker at a Rotary Club of Scottsdale luncheon meeting held at McCormick Ranch Golf Club.

When introducing Ms. Porter, Rotarian Jerry Palmer stated that Ms. Porter is an attorney, with a Harvard University bachelor’s degree and juris doctor from Arizona State University (ranking third in her class). She clerked for federal appellate Judge William Canby and was a litigator for Brown & Bain; Coppersmith Gordon Schermer Owens & Nelson, PLC; and Osborn Maledon PA.

She left her law career in 2006 for Audubon Arizona because she wanted to contribute to a collaborative effort to address Arizona’s natural resource challenges. She now dedicates that focus to the Kyl Center — named after retired U.S. Senator Jon Kyl in recognition of his statesmanship and continued leadership on water issues — officially launched in 2014 after a $1 million gift from the Morrison family.

The Kyl Center is housed at Morrison Institute, which is part of the ASU College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

Ms. Porter shared her broad understanding of both Arizona and regional water issues. She discussed the sources of Arizona’s water, including the Colorado River, which serves 40 million people within six states and Mexico, as well as, 22 Native American tribes and 4.5 million agriculture acres.

Other topics she covered were: water banking; The Sustainable Ground Water Management Act; 93-95% water reuse; Gila River restoration and reclamation projects; Roosevelt Dam’s purpose; forest watersheds; water inflow variability and supply stability; Phoenix water demand (32% agriculture, 49% municipal, 8% industries and 11% tribal); and more.

Ms. Porter stated that agriculture water demand is decreasing while population and economy show increases. Home efficiencies are increasing thereby decreasing water usage (i.e. toilet retirements and green lawn removal).

In closing, she talked about Arizona and California’s water contingency planning; water shortage risks; volatility of Lake Mead; and, water costs and rights.

For more information about Rotary Club of Scottsdale upcoming Monday noon key note speakers – see scottsdalerotary.org or call 480-945-6158.

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