May 8, 2020 / Volume 8, Issue 18
The Water Resource Research Center - a research unit of the  College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and an Extension unit in  UA Cooperative Extension  within the Division of   Agriculture,  Life & Veterinary Sciences & Cooperative Extension
WRRC Office Update

Although the WRRC building will be closed to the public until further notice, our staff continue to work and engage as much as possible. You can reach us via email as listed on our Directory. We wish you all the best - Stay safe and healthy!

UArizona Cooperative Extension COVID-19 info page   
WRRC COVID-19 Articles
In this issue:  Nevada Diversion  /  COVID-19 Impacts / COVID-19 Wells / Pets
Wicked Water Problems Addressed
in WRRC Webinar

Director Sharon B. Megdal returned from her sabbatical to present Wednesday's WRRC Brown Bag Webinar, Developing Pathways to Solutions to Wicked Water Problems. Megdal's sabbatical speaking tour: a worldwide series of lectures focused on water policy and management, was unfortunately cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The presentation began with an illuminating discussion of the contextual background as important determinants of water policy and management. These complex water management issues, often intertwined with their solutions, are what define wicked water problems: problems that seemingly defy standard solutions. Among the characteristics of wicked water problems mentioned in the presentation, Megdal highlighted the need for interdisciplinary collaboration to manage uncertainty, create resilience, and forge pathways to mitigating the challenges. Megdal's broad expertise was evident in the presentation which covered wicked water problems in the Colorado River Basin including Tribal water issues, trans-border groundwater management between the U.S. and Mexico, and conditions on the Lower Jordan River and the Dead Sea.
Recording and presentation slides here
WRRC Annual Conference Goes Virtual
nevadaNortheast Nevada Water Diversion Halted

Last month, Las Vegas water officials scratched a decades-long plan to diversify the city's water resources by piping groundwater from rural northeast Nevada to urban suburbs and tourist resorts in the state's most populated metropolitan region. This water diversion plan was part of a larger effort to ensure a reliable supply for the city's 2.2 million residents and 40+ million tourists a year that are currently nearly entirely dependent on water from Lake Mead. Opponents maintained that tribal nations' due process rights were denied, and the pumping plan did little to prevent possible damage to cultural areas.  The plan's legal journey was put to rest with a judge's order to recalculate the amount of groundwater available to supply the project. Instead of appealing the judge's order, the Southern Nevada Water Authority will update its 50-year water plan to focus on water conservation and relations with other states reliant on Colorado River water.

More on  the plan
economic-impactBlog Foresees Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Water Industry

Economist Rodney Smith, known to the Arizona water community through past WRRC conferences, among other activities, has written a series of blogs on how the pandemic has affected the water industry economically and how the industry should prepare for recovery. Smith traces the growth of unemployment claims and the likelihood of related business defaults and bankruptcies. Because these numbers are larger than in the Great Depression, he warns that the basic water planning principle of perpetually increasing water demand will no longer hold. Like the petroleum industry before it, water will see a decrease in demand as a result of the unprecedented economic downturn. To develop new principles for water planning, Smith recommends monitoring and improved modeling based on observation to usher in an era of adaptive water management.

Read the Blog
covid-wellCOVID-19 Risk from Private Wells Assessed

The National Ground Water Association has published a new report on COVID-19 and groundwater. "Groundwater, Wells, and Coronavirus," by William Alley and Charles Job, describes what is known about the risks of contracting the disease through contact with water from private wells. Although leaky septic systems and inadequately sealed wells can allow bacteria and viruses to contaminate well water; the COVID-19 virus has not been detected in groundwater from wells. One possible explanation is that, as a type of corona virus, COVID-19 is less stable in the environment than, for example, noroviruses, which cause gastrointestinal illness. After surveying the literature on viruses in groundwater, septic systems, and treatment, the authors conclude that the risk is low but not zero.

Read more