The Cobre Valley depends upon aquifers deep underground for its water supply, a fact that raises some questions.
Is there enough? What efforts are area communities making towards environmental stewardship, conservation and education?
At the First Cobre Valley Forum on Water, held Sept. 6, 2018, addressed questions like this when “leaders from government, industry and not-for-profit organizations shared their water experiences and lessons,” said Research Analyst Ashley Hullinger, with the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center (WRRC).
“We learned about local and regional opportunities to create a more resilient water future for healthy communities, businesses and the environment,” she told the Silver Belt. “Since then, the WRCC and community partners have been working to make progress on some of the top priorities related to water and community well-being.”
The Second Cobre Valley Forum on Water will be held Tuesday, April 9, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Gila County Fairgrounds, 900 Fairgrounds Rd., in Globe.
Those who want to participate may register online at www.eventbrite.com/e/second-cobre-valley-forum-on-water-tickets-55414687823.
Gila County Supervisors Woody Cline and Tim Humphrey are scheduled to be featured speakers.
Cline said he has been following reports not only from local water departments, but from the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR).
“They measure and monitor water levels in various places, such as Globe’s No. 4 well, which was 563 feet below surface land in 1990, and had dropped to 688 feet below in 2013,” he said. “Sure, we’ve had generous rain and snow this winter — creeks are running — but that doesn’t reverse 20 years of drought.”
Cline called the April 9 forum “a chance for all who care about Gila County’s water supply to meet and plan for the future.”
After registrations at 8 a.m., Humphrey will open the forum at 8:30 a.m., welcoming Cobre Valley city and town leaders for the second of this new series of regional forums studying local water supply, quality and the future.
The presentation, “Recap and Planning Ahead: Balancing Supply and Demand for the Future,” will begin at 9 a.m.
Hullinger will talk about the “Cobre Valley Water Budget,” and Rural Development Specialist Deborah Patton, with the Rural Communities Assistance Corporation, will discuss “Meeting Needs and Finding Compromise Around Water.”
At 10 a.m., the presentation “What’s Happening on the Ground: Trails and Environmental Stewardship,” will also feature two presenters.
Community Health Policy Analyst Beth Chaney, with the county’s Department of Public Health, will discuss the “Pinal Creek Trail Demonstration Site,” and County Agent Christopher Jones will talk about the “Future of Cottonwoods in Cobre Valley.”
The presentation “News from the University: Research to Real-Life,” will be held at 10:30 a.m.
Assistant Professor Monica Ramirez-Andreotta, with the U of A Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, will present an “Update on Project Harvest.”
Graduate Planning students Anthony Aceves, Holly Barton, Jhentille Cargille, Chase Cushing, Emma James and Monica Serrano, with the U of A College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture, will present results of a semester-long project entitled, “Cobre Valley and San Carlos Apache Tribe Connectivity and Economic Development.”
At 11:15 a.m. two presenters will talk about water education with the presentation, “Spotlight: Let’s Focus on Education.”
Leitha Griffin and Solanga Leyva, with marketing and public relations at Gila Community College, will present “Survey Results on Student Perception of Drinking Water.”
Director Kerry Schwartz, with Arizona Project WET, will discuss “How we Develop Lifelong Skills and Systems Thinking.”
After the Noon lunch break sponsored by the Arizona Water Company, at 12:45 p.m., there will be a question and answer panel discussion on “Water and Action.”
The moderator will be Deborah Patton, with RCAC, and the panel will include District Manager Freddy Rios, with Arizona Water Company; Globe Mayor Al Gameros; Forest Hydrologist Kelly Mott LaCroix, with the U.S. Forest Service Tonto National Forest and ADWR Deputy Director Gerry Walker.
Hullinger told the Silver Belt that a representative from the Town of Miami may also be on the panel.
At 1:30 p.m. will be a discussion of “What’s Next: Grass-Roots and Large-Scale Options,” followed by closing remarks by Cline.
Hullinger said about the April 9 forum, “I’m excited to have a culminating event that will bring together updates and discussion from a variety of groups that are passionate about water, focusing on how we work together to preserve sustainable water supplies into the future.”
“Even while it is our most important molecule, water is often not talked about enough,” she told the Silver Belt. “Through WRRC’s internal research and coordination with work carried out by local organizations, we’ve pursued action planning for the top water priorities decided in the first forum.”
The WRRC looks forward to sharing results as well as hearing from state and local representatives “about successes and next steps around water, which translates to healthy communities, environment and economies,” Hullinger said.
Funded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation WaterSMART program, the Cobre Valley Watershed Partnership (CVWP) is being created over the next two years to implement needed watershed projects in the area.
CVWP membership is open to any interested individual or organization.
For more information, or to become involved in a CVWP working group, contact Ashley Hullinger at 520-621-8252 or via e-mail at [email protected]
For more information, go to wrrc.arizona.edu/Cobre-Valley.
This is the sixth story in a series on the Cobre Valley Watershed Partnership. Look for future stories in upcoming editions of the Silver Belt.