say aquifers running dry
Sun Staff Reporter
Sunday, August 13, 2006 12:35 PM CDT
from Williams and Tusayan to Flagstaff and Tuba City
are going to be using more water than they can sustainably
draw from the ground by 2050, the Bureau of Reclamation
has found in one of the most comprehensive studies to
the Navajo Aquifer around Dilkon at Lower Greasewood
could be going dry as soon as 2010, the study found,
with many more to follow in the next two decades.
tapping the Colorado River at a starting cost of $300
million have been proposed as the most likely way to
bring new water to Flagstaff, Williams and the western
edge of the Navajo Nation, replacing some of the more
unreliable water supplies.
factored population growth, conservation and many fluctuating
demographics into this study, one thing became apparent
no matter how the numbers varied: In two or three generations,
existing water supplies won't keep up with expected
And the water
table around the Coconino Plateau watershed will start
to sink as a result.
can change these assumptions, but all that changes is
the point at which the aquifer is depleted," said
Kevin Black, presenting the study for the Bureau of
Arizona's population is expected to almost double, growing
from 96,125 in 2000 to 184,650 in 2050, according the
Arizona Department of Economic Security.
Parks, Tusayan and Tuba City will be among the faster-growing
urban areas, DES projected.
population is expected to triple between 2000 and 2050,
we're going to grow the way we're projected to grow
in this state, we're going to have to bring in water
from somewhere regardless of conservation measures already
in place," Flagstaff utilities director Ron Doba
Even after the purchase of a new water supply source
east of Flagstaff last year at Red Gap Ranch, Flagstaff
will be pumping more water from the Coconino Aquifer
than the aquifer can support by 2050, Doba wrote in
reports to the Bureau.
Navajo and Hopi governments have said they project per
capita water use to increase as water pipelines make
it to more homes and fewer families have to haul water.
A group of
the concerned tribes, Coconino County, environmental
and federal officials have been meeting for years on
what's called the Coconino Plateau Water Advisory Council
to address the water issue and try to find a common
understanding that there won't always be enough groundwater
to go around is a departure from past thinking.
will soon be invited to learn more about the region's
water future and offer suggestions, said Coconino County
Supervisor Deb Hill, who leads a public outreach committee.
is a huge change in direction for this region and I
would hope that all the citizens will get involved and
stay involved as we see where this is going to go,"
from the Grand Canyon along Highway 89 communities to
Flagstaff and Williams have been proposed, at a per
capita cost that would make this water among the most
expensive in the nation.
A $410 million
pipeline from Lake Mead to Williams and Flagstaff, the
most expensive proposal, has also been considered.
of Reclamation won't take the next step, which would
involve asking Congress to permit further studies on
some of these pricey pipeline projects, Black said.
he said, is up to the water advisory group.