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The Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy was officially launched Nov. 14, made possible by a $1 million gift from the Morrison family, with a mission to seek consensus for wise water policy and lasting solutions for Arizona.
Named after retired U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, who will lend both his expertise as a water attorney and leadership as a statesman, the Kyl Center will convene a diversity of stakeholders to collaboratively address many of the state’s water challenges – just as Arizona leaders successfully did in decades past.
“Arizona is going to face some very difficult challenges in the next several years relating to our water,” Kyl said. “God isn't making any more of it, and so we have to take of what we have and find out the best way to be good stewards so our children, grandchildren and all who follow us have a bright future like we've had."
The Kyl Center will serve as a forum for public evaluation and public education, as well as an alternative to litigation for a more expeditious resolution of outstanding issues. It all starts with a "serious conversation" and a commitment to finding solutions, Kyl said.
The center will not be a competitor of existing water centers or efforts, but rather a collaborator and partner in finding new ways to address new challenges for a growing state and region, Kyl said. A job search is underway for a full-time director of the Kyl Center, with Thom Reilly, Morrison Institute director; Grady Gammage, Jr., senior research fellow; Richard Morrison, Morrison Institute advisory board chairman; and an advisory board of water experts from throughout the state providing leadership in the meantime.
Whenever and wherever possible, we must look beyond conflict and the courts,” Morrison said. “We’ve seen where that leads us. Instead, we must look to collaboration and, in some cases, agree to compromise. Ultimately, it must be Arizonans who solve Arizona’s problems by working together.”
With Kyl’s participation, Arizona water experts have already met on two occasions this fall to determine short-term, mid-term and long-term priorities for Arizona’s water future. Although some issues will likely be resolved in court, those in attendance agreed the state would be better off finding common ground rather than settling for prolonged conflict.
Details of the priorities can be found at morrisoninstitute.asu.edu/kyl-water-center.
“We are excited to house the Kyl Center for Water Policy,” Reilly said. “This solutions-oriented center has a real opportunity to resolve many outstanding water conflicts without getting tied up in the courts. The center also will have an education component so the public can understand there are choices to be made regarding Arizona’s most precious resource.”
As part of its educational mission, the center will be devising a “Water Index” to gauge a region or area’s water health according to certain metrics such as:
• surface water availability
• ground water reserves
• precipitation and snow pack
• population and growth rate
• urban and industry use versus agricultural use
• compacts and court rulings
• conservation efforts
• new water usage policies
• emergency contingency plans and other options
This at-a-glance tool will be helpful for the general public and others to more easily understand the numerous complexities and changing dynamics of water, Reilly said.
The center will seek input from the public, public utilities, private water companies, urban and rural interests, agriculture, conservationists, environmentalists, recreationists, industry and tribes.
“Consensus cannot be reached any other way,” Morrison noted.
An Arizona State University resource, the Morrison Institute for Public Policy is a nonpartisan center for research, analysis and public outreach regarding Arizona’s most pressing issues. The Morrison Institute is part of the ASU College of Public Programs.
Joseph Garcia, firstname.lastname@example.org