May 09 2016Share

AZ Water Association: The People Who Bring You Water

By Warren Tenney

By 1928 Arizona's farmers, miners, loggers and ranch hands were migrating into the urban areas of the state. The state's largest cities also began attracting tourists and new residents. This influx of people brought with it a need for reliable, safe and affordable water. To meet the demand, cities and other water utility operators found it necessary to share information about technology, infrastructure, financing and employee training. In 1928, water professionals founded the AZ Water Association to help build water and wastewater systems ready for growth.

Today the AZ Water Association has 2,200 members. Members include operators, engineers, scientists, technicians and managers from public and private water utilities. Members come from small community utilities with as few as two employees and big-city systems with hundreds, such as the AMWUA cities. Members include engineering firms that contract with utilities, companies that sell them pipe, valves, gauges and meters, and construction companies that build infrastructure.  Regulatory agents and university researchers and students also belong to the group.

Here’s why the AZ Water Association is important to you.

Training: Safe and reliable water depends on professionals with a wide variety of skills to operate and maintain water distribution and wastewater collection systems. In an emergency or disaster, these workers are part of the community’s first responders to ensure we have the water we need. The AZ Water Association works with state agencies to help train, motivate and mentor these employees so they continue to meet certification standards. Operators, lab specialists and utility technicians in the field who are up to date about treatment techniques, regulations and standards can better serve their customers to ensure high quality water is always at your faucet.

Inspiration: The Association also helps to cultivate new generations of water professionals – from plant operators and utility workers to engineers and scientists - ready to take charge of Arizona’s water needs. For example, for nearly 50 years the Association has provided up to $15,000 worth of scholarships annually to community college and university students planning careers in water.

Advocacy: The AZ Water Association helps elected officials understand why it’s important to dedicate time and money to train water employees and maintain infrastructure. The Association also helps customers understand where their water comes from and the value of water in the arid Southwest.

Collaboration: On Wednesday the AZ Water Association kicks off its 89th AZ Water Annual Conference & Exhibition. This three-day conference in the City of Glendale includes training, panel discussions, awards for outstanding water and wastewater projects, and a career fair.

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A highlight of this year’s conference is a screening of the documentary “Groundwater: To Enact a Law for the Common Good.” The film follows the conflict among farms, cities, and mines that, eventually, led to the passage of the groundbreaking 1980 Arizona Groundwater Management Act. Creators Kathleen Ferris, AMWUA’s legal advisor and policy analyst, and film writer, producer and author Michael Schiffer will discuss the film after the showing. Other panel discussion topics include desalination and the 107th Arizona Town Hall report on water.

Here’s the best part of this story about the people who bring you water: Busy water professionals around the state do the bulk of the organization’s work by sitting on the Association’s boards and committees. They are committed to AZ Water Association’s mission because they understand that safe, reliable and affordable water is the lifeblood of Arizona.

For 46 years, Arizona Municipal Water Users Association has worked to protect our member cities’ ability to provide assured, safe and sustainable water supplies to their communities. For more water information visit

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