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Report Urges More Conservation, Water Sharing In Arizona

Arizona’s farmers and suburban communities will be among the first to feel the squeeze of dwindling water supplies in the coming years. That’s if more isn’t done to conserve water in Lake Mead.

With about a 50 percent chance of water cutbacks in the coming year, southwest states like Arizona are still hashing out a deal to bolster the reservoir level in Lake Mead. If states can’t prevent a shortage, though, farmers will be some of the first to lose out.

But also at stake are the groundwater supplies that feed development in the West Valley and provide a security net in times of drought. That’s because those are some of the lowest priority users.

On Thursday, the conservation group Western Resource Advocates released a report detailing the impacts of the ongoing drought on the Colorado River and recommendations for how Arizona can deal with water scarcity.

Drew Beckwith with Western Resource Advocates says the state should make it easier to move water around.

“Right now it’s not a very flexible system. If I have too much water one year, it's not very easy for me to sell it and give it to a river or a farmer or a city. That kind of flexibility will be really helpful dealing with future water shortages,” Beckwith said.

The report also recommends more conservation by fixing leaky infrastructure and investing in direct potable reuse, also known as toilet-to-tap.

Will Stone grew up with the sounds of public radio. As a senior field correspondent, he strives to tell the same kind of powerful stories that got him into the business — whether that means trudging through some distant corner of the Sonoran Desert or uncovering an unknown injustice right down the street. Since joining the KJZZ newsroom in 2015, he has covered political scandals, fights over the future of energy, and efforts to care for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable communities. His pieces have also aired on national programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now and Marketplace. Before coming to KJZZ, he reported for public radio stations in Nevada and Connecticut. Stone received his degree in English literature from Haverford College, where he also wrote about the arts and culture scene in Philadelphia. After graduating, he interned at NPR West in Culver City, California, where he learned from some of the network’s veteran reporters and editors. When he doesn’t have a mic in hand, Stone enjoys climbing mountains, running through his central Phoenix neighborhood and shamelessly promoting his cat, Barry.