Five Water Challenges for Arizona from Avondale's Councilmember Iwanski
By Warren Tenney
There wasn't much David Iwanski didn't know about Arizona water when he joined AMWUA's Board of Directors in 2014. Avondale Councilmember Iwanski trained as an attorney, spent four years in the Army and served as an aide to the late Arizona U.S. Congressman Eldon Rudd. It was Rudd who instructed him to learn everything he could about water and energy in the West. That led to a job with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Since then, Councilmember Iwanski has served as Water Resources Manager for the cities of Glendale and Goodyear. He spent those years as a member of AMWUA’s Water Resources Advisory Group.
Mr. Iwanski, 62, was appointed to Avondale’s City Council in 2014 but opted not to run for a seat this year. He preferred his current job as Executive Director of the AZ Water Association, which helps to educate and keep certified water professionals from across the state. Before he leaves the Board of Directors, we sat down and asked Councilmember Iwanski to list a few of Arizona’s immediate water challenges as he sees them.
Challenge 1: Educate state elected officials about water. “The biggest immediate challenge is educating all our newly elected officials at all levels of government, including cities and towns, county boards of supervisors and state legislators about water issues.”
Challenge 2: Educate members of the new administration, Senate and Congress in Washington, D.C. about sometimes onerous regulations about water quality standards, endangered species, and coal-fired power plants: “When EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) sets standards, good science and good economics are not always adhered to.”
Challenge 3: Develop a comprehensive plan to increase the beneficial use of water cleaned at polluted Superfund Sites, known as remediated water. “We need to be able to develop that supply. There are two Superfund sites in Goodyear and a state Superfund Site in Avondale. We need to remediate that water and put it to better use. We’re doing this in Goodyear, but we need to do more of it. There will be other identified contamination and we’ll need to clean up those aquifers.”
Challenge 4: Arizona needs to quickly dedicate time, effort and money toward helping the state’s rural communities improve the quality and quantity of reliable and safe drinking water. This can’t be accomplished without hiring more water technicians and hydrologists at competitive salaries to gather data and find solutions. “Elected officials have to make that decision in terms of looking at salary and benefits for water professionals. If this is our most important issue, then we need to hire good talent.”
Challenge 5: Arizona’s leaders are going to have to accept the fact that our growth cannot outstrip our water supply. Most importantly, growth cannot rely on pumping the finite supply of water within our aquifers, known as non-renewable water. “You cannot build a sustainable economy on a non-renewable groundwater supply. So, here’s the policy question: Do you or do you not want 10-15 million people living in Central Arizona. No? Then cities and town have to look at their water portfolios and say: What can I afford at build out? People may have to make the decision that lower density or fewer people are viable options.”
For 47 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 www.amwua.org.