Last year, Arizona lost access to 18% of its portion of Colorado River water. This year the federal government cut another 21%. This has left many farmers with reduced access to water.
While federal cuts in Arizona’s access to Colorado River water impact the whole state, private and tribal farmers have been some of the most affected. Especially those in Maricopa, Pima, and Pinal Counties.
Gary Nabhan is a University of Arizona ecologist. He says farmers have had to tap into groundwater, which is a limited resource and more expensive.
“It will make it impossible for farmers after these costs hit a certain threshold to pencil out in the black, and it makes them vulnerable to much more debt,” Nabhan said.
To address the water crisis, UA professors wrote a report outlining technical, legal and financial support for farmers to access. One such solution would be investing in new irrigation technologies.
“As it stands now, we use more water per acre than any other state in the country, and we don’t need to to have viable farms.” Nabhan said.
He added that if solutions are not implemented, the water crisis will grow more dire.