When you are thirsty and hungry, you go to your refrigerator, fill a glass of water and clean your bowl of fruit under running water at your sink. But what if the water does not run to fill your glass or to help grow that fresh produce or to grow that cotton shirt and pants you’re wearing?
Many of us may take for granted the complex system of water infrastructure in place in Arizona to convey water to your tap or through a canal to a field to raise food and fiber needed to survive. When you turn on your faucet, you are counting on reservoirs, dams, canals, pipes, pumps, treatment plants, electricity and the many other infrastructure components to do their job. It takes quite a network of infrastructure to move water where it is needed to serve you, the consumer.
Arizona, like all western states, has complex infrastructure that is aging and in need of repair or replacement; some is operating well beyond its intended life. Much is in need of the kind of financial investment that only the federal government can provide. And support from our congressional delegation during this time of developing federal infrastructure legislation needs to include funding for water infrastructure. Much is in place and is working very well, but much more needs to be done in the form of investment in water infrastructure as a top priority. In Arizona, needs exceed $300 million for agriculture-related water infrastructure alone.
That is why a coalition of more than 200 farm organizations, including Western Growers, Farm Bureau, Family Farm Alliance, the National Water Resources Association, and urban and rural water districts have joined together this year to urge our federal partners to include water infrastructure in upcoming federal legislation.
In addition to fixing what is already in place, this is an opportunity to “Build Back Better” as the Biden administration says it wants to do. This means funding to repair existing infrastructure and to build new storage for both surface and groundwater supply.
Addressing critical water infrastructure needs will help secure our water future, create jobs, help in our economic recovery, help us adjust to climate change, better protect the environment, and help us maintain a safe and abundant local food and fiber supply.
We call on our congressional delegation and all our federal partners to join us in creating a better future for Arizona and beyond and support reasonable, bipartisan water infrastructure funding.
Editor’s note: Chris Udall is executive director of the Agribusiness & Water Council of Arizona, 4455 E. Broadway Road Suite 102 in Mesa. The website is agribusinessarizona.org.