Partnership Means Research
Making the best decisions requires the best information. Research studies help refine the understanding of the problem and identify conservation actions that will have the greatest impact. These studies include:
- Groundwater Modeling– to describe how the groundwater system is related to the river and what the effects of water uses are on the entire system.
- Decision Support System– to integrate available information into a computer program that allows decision-makers to see the potential impact of specific water management scenarios.
- Water Augmentation Studies— to determine the feasibility and cost/yield benefit for using new sources of water.
- Reuse and Recharge Studies—to investigate the feasibility of using treated effluent from surrounding communities like Bisbee, Huachuca City and Naco for irrigation or recharge.
- San Pedro Riparian NCA water needs study–to find out how much water the trees and other vegetation near the river actually use and will continue to need to stay healthy.
Partnership Is Planning
Congress spoke directly to the importance of preserving both the San Pedro River and Fort Huachuca in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2004–Section 321. The bill recognizes the importance of “collaborative water use management” and gives congressional recognition to the Partnership and its continuing efforts to eliminate deficit groundwater pumping by 2011. Part of the Partnership’s continuing efforts include the development of an annual Working Water Management and Conservation Plan that includes information on strategies for:
- Reducing existing water use – simply using less water by determining the right technologies to use (i.e. using treated effluent for irrigation) and helping the people who live here find ways to save water every day.
- Avoiding future water use – establishing good public policy (codes, ordinances, legislation) and developing new approaches, such as conservation easements.
- Recharging used water — putting treated effluent (wastewater cleaned to meet strict standards) and storm water back into the underground aquifer.
- Developing additional water resources—exploring the possibility of importing water from outside the basin.
Funding the Partnership
The Partnership has been funded for several years primarily through the efforts of Congressman Jim Kolbe. Special legislative provisions often referred to as “earmarks” have been placed in annual legislation for the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and Defense.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been funded in this way to work on Partnership studies, set up monitoring and verification and to produce reports on behalf of the Partnership. Similarly, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has worked as a member for the Partnership on research and projects to help us better understand our watershed. Funds earmarked for direct use by the Partnership for water mitigation projects have been inserted into the budget of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) is funded to help the Partnership evaluate potential options for the augmentation of local water supplies.
Several Partnership members also contribute or have contributed monetarily to the operations and administrative overhead costs of the Partnership. These include Fort Huachuca, the City of Sierra Vista, Cochise County government, the Arizona Department of Water Resources and The Nature Conservancy.
As the Partnership moves from the period wherein it tried to define the problem and evaluate possible solutions to a period of greater focus on mitigation actions designed to directly conserve, reuse, recharge or augment local water supplies, we are faced with the challenge of acquiring ever greater levels of funding while simultaneously dealing with the absence of the good efforts of Congressman Kolbe.