Managing scarcity: changing the paradigm for sustainable resource management

As Arizona’s fastest growing private water and wastewater utility, Global Water Resources (“Global”) is driving the deployment of efficient water resource management to ensure the sustainability of development. The drought plagued Southwest, poised to experience continued rapid growth, does so at the peril of its limited groundwater supplies. Thus, water conservation is imperative in the desert Southwest. Recognizing reclaimed water as the only increasing water supply, and the only true “sustainable” or “renewable” resource, effective management and deployment of reclaimed water will ensure development may continue even in the face of environmental stresses. Demonstration of these principles is made through a case study of Global utilities in the Maricopa Casa Grande Region located in Arizona.

This paper will discuss the tools employed by Global Water and its partners in water reclamation to develop a sustainable approach to water resources management, the challenges faced by the reclamation industry and the direct impact of water reclamation on water use experienced in Global Water’s Santa Cruz Water Company.

Water resources are increasingly scarce commodities. Over-allocation, overdraft, decreasing quality, increasing demand each seek to reduce the availability and cost effectiveness of providing safe, reliable water for all manner of uses. The fact is the volume of water available for use – be it groundwater or surface water – is finite. Stretching the resource means being creative in using the scarce resources that exist, exploiting resources that are unrecognized, and
developing the methodologies, practices and policies to maximize the resource availability.  To meet the competing needs of the various interested parties – environmentalists, first nations’ communities, developers, municipalities, water providers etc – requires cooperation on an unparalleled scale. No longer can water scarcity be addressed in isolation.

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