Energy and water story ideas wantedWhen you tell Arizona folks you want to talk about water resources, they listen. In fact, they may well want to chime in themselves.

That’s what I discovered recently when I drafted my April 2013 Editor’s Letter for Arizona Attorney Magazine. Like every editor, I am always seeking content that advances the conversation, and we’re always on the prowl for stories that are pertinent and timely.

Based on numerous dialogues I’ve had in the past six months, it occurred to me that a few of the areas we should be covering are water resources and energy generation. So I asked.

Happily, I heard from a good number of people with their ideas. But I’d like to hear from even more. And that’s why I’m including that April column below (you can read it and the complete issue here). If you want to be part of the conversation—either as a published author or as someone we should quote in a story—write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Dept. of Power, Water, More Power

In a desert climate, more effort may be expended on energy issues than in other places. And the horse-trading among powerful interests will only increase in 2013.

Back in 2010, we heard from University of Arizona Law Professor Robert Glennon. The water expert said, “What we do to water is what we did to the buffalo: Harvest it to the brink of extinction.”

Even with H2O, what we value is connected to how much we pay: “Water lubricates the American economy just as much as oil does, but Americans pay less for water than we do for cellphone service or cable television.”

The Navajo Generating Station near Page is at the center of a legal dispute that involves the Salt River Project and the Navajo Nation.

The Navajo Generating Station near Page is at the center of a legal dispute that involves the Salt River Project and the Navajo Nation.

An intriguing panel last month on water in a desert climate addressed that and other issues. It opened with the question, “Do we really have enough water? Really?” (I also wrote about the panel online at http://wp.me/pEOwt-2rX).

The interrelatedness of energy issues was clear as speakers addressed the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station, for which the EPA has advised requires huge and expensive changes. Assuming improvements cost $1 billion (with a b) or more, we may have to reassess water pricing.

Historian Paul Hirt relayed a humorous story demonstrating that water in Arizona is even cheaper than dirt. He got estimates on having a ton of clean topsoil delivered to his house. A ton of clean water (according to WikiAnswers, about 240 gallons) delivered from SRP would cost about 20 times that.

“20 times cheaper,” Hirt marveled, “to get this precious, life-giving resource.”

Heather Macre, a lawyer and Central Arizona Conservation Water Board member, reexamined relations we thought we understood. For instance, she says, “When you turn on a lightbulb, you’re using water. When you turn on your faucet, you’re using electricity.”

Are we trapped in a “relentless cycle of overuse,” as Glennon says? What next steps make sustainable sense, legally or otherwise?

This year, we’d like to cover more energy topics in the magazine. To do that, we need your help.

What issues related to water or other resource should be our focus? What are the legal developments we should follow? And who are the lawyers who should be on our list of sources and authors? Write to us at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

“Do we have enough water?” panelists were asked? One responded, “Yes, but ….”

What’s your answer?

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