Diverse interests came together in 1980 to pass Arizona’s groundwater law; a matter of balancing growth with conservation, says Tom Galvin, Rose Law Group land use and water attorney

Prescott resident William Gauslow makes a comment to a panel of water experts on May 17, after a screening of the documentary film “Groundwater, To Enact a Law for the Common Good.”/Photo by Cindy Barks

Controversy continues over safe-yield, Big Chino, environment

By Cindy Barks | The Daily Courier

Water — and its long and contentious history in Arizona – took center stage in Prescott this past week.

About 275 people turned out at the Elks Theatre in downtown Prescott Wednesday evening, May 17, for the northern Arizona premier of “Groundwater, To Enact a Law for the Common Good” — a 26-minute film that documents the history of Arizona’s 1980 Groundwater Management Act.

Through a series of candid interviews with the major players of the time — including former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt, as well as lobbyists for the mining and agriculture industries and cities and towns — the film takes viewers through the tense negotiations that got underway after a water conflict arose in 1976.


“It is always a good thing whenever attention is paid to Arizona’s water issues. It is even more heartening to see a renewed focus on the landmark Groundwater Management Act. The architects of the law set in motion a policy initiative that helped usher in unprecedented growth while at the same time facilitating more water conservation on a yearly basis.

“The discussions about the Groundwater Management Act actually underscore the need to update and modernize water conservation policies for a new generation. We need to continue to nurture our valuable agricultural community, cooperate with real estate developers who are handling our growth demands, and continue to find ways to be a world-wide leader in water conservation.

“Governor Ducey should be commended for convening distinguished leaders for the ongoing efforts to ensure that Arizona is in the vanguard of water management policy.”

~Tom Galvin