Skip to Content
Stream Live
More Streaming Options
Recently Played
View Full Playlist
‹ What's New

Who’s Who At the Water Forum

November 2, 2015


On Nov. 6, 2015, the Central Arizona Project (CAP) and the Water Resources Research Center are holding a free community forum on “Sustainable Water for Southern Arizona: Current Conditions and Future Prospects” to discuss our most critical natural resource and its impact on our economy, environment, and way of life.

The forum will be held from 7:30 to 11:00 a.m. at the Leo Rich Theater at the Tucson Convention Center and will feature a keynote address by Arizona Department of Water Resources Director, Tom Buschatzke, and a panel moderated by WRRC Director Sharon B. Megdal.
It is hosted in partnership with the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, the Southern Arizona Water Users Association, and KXCI Radio!!
Biographies of the presenters and panelists follow:

Central Arizona Project Board of Directors, Lisa Atkins, President 

Lisa A. Atkins first joined the Board through appointment by Governor Jane Dee Hull in January, 2003, to complete the term vacated by Bob Burns. She was elected to a regular term in November 2006, and re-elected to the CAWCD Board of Directors for her second full term on November 6, 2012, to represent Maricopa County until December 31, 2018. Mrs. Atkins currently serves as the President of the Board. Previously she served as Board Secretary and Chairman of the CAGRD & Underground Storage Committee.

Mrs. Atkins was appointed Commissioner of the Arizona State Land Department in June, 2015. She has served on the Commission on the Arizona Environment, the 1999 Governor’s Transportation Vision 21 Task Force, the 2000 Governor’s Water Management Commission, the 2003 Governor’s Military Facilities Task Force, the Arizona Water Bank Authority representing CAWCD, chaired the 2012 and 2014 Commission on Salaries for Elected State Officers, and served for more than ten years as the Co-Chair of the Governor’s Military Affairs Commission.  Mrs. Atkins was a member of the staff of U. S. Congressman Bob Stump for more than twenty-five years, serving as Chief of Staff from 1979 – 2002, the Executive Director of the County Supervisors Association (2003-2004), and the Vice President for Public Policy of Greater Phoenix Leadership (2004-2015).

Mrs. Atkins, a native Arizonan, resides in Phoenix with her husband, John. They have two grown children and three grandsons. Mrs. Atkins is a graduate of the University of Arizona.​



Arizona Department of Water Resources, Thomas Buschatzke, Director

Tom Buschatzke was appointed Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources in January 2015. Prior to this appointment he served as the Assistant Director of the Department’s Water Planning Division, overseeing the Colorado River Management, Active Management Areas, Planning and Data Management, Assured and Adequate Water Supply and Recharge Permitting, and Statewide Planning programs and Tribal Liaison. He is responsible for multiple planning and policy, regulatory and permitting programs for the management of the state’s water supplies.

Mr. Buschatzke serves as Arizona’s principal negotiator on matters relating to the Colorado River, is the Chairman of the Arizona Water Banking Authority and Co-Chair of the Drought Inter-Agency Coordinating Council and represents the State in Indian water right negotiations.

Mr. Buschatzke possesses over thirty years of experience in water management and has been a member of several statewide long-term water planning initiatives including serving as Co-Chair of the Statewide Water Resources Development Commission, the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Water Sustainability where he served as Co-Chair of the Regulatory and Permitting Group and was an active participant in the Statewide Water Advisory Group and Governor’s Drought Task Force.

During his twenty-four year tenure with the City of Phoenix, he served as the Water Resources Management Advisor and was responsible for policy development for management of the City’s water resources and worked with directly with the City’s executive staff, the City Manager, the Mayor, and with members of the City Council on a variety of water issues. He began his career with the City in 1988 as a Hydrologist in the Law Department where he provided assistance to City management and attorneys on issues relating to the City’s water rights, water use and water supply.

In addition, he has been on the Board of Directors of the Western Urban Water Coalition and served as Chair of their Endangered Species Act Committee. He was previously a Commissioner on the Arizona Water Banking Authority and the Arizona Water Protection Fund.

Previously he served on the External Advisory Committees of the University of Arizona’s Water Sustainability Program and Water Resources Research Center and the Decision Center for A Desert City at Arizona State University. He has been a member of the Colorado River Water User’s Association; American Water Resources Association; and the American Water Works Association.

Mr. Buschatzke’s career in Arizona water resources began with a 1982 Arizona Department of Water Resources internship in the Phoenix Active Management Area and he ultimately became a Program Manager in the Adjudications Division. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Geology from the State University of New York at Cortland.

 Brian Wong Photo

BKW Farms, Brian Wong, President

3rd generation farmer working at BKW Farms in Marana, Arizona

First crop planted in 1939

Graduated from the University of Arizona in 2011 with a major in Agricultural Economics and Management

Currently the President of BKW Farms

Sits as Chairperson on the Citizens Water Advisory Committee (CWAC)

Board Member with SAWUA representing BKW Farms


Marie Pearthree 2015 02

Central Arizona Project, Marie Pearthree, Deputy General Manager

Marie S. Pearthree, P.E. is the Deputy General Manager for Strategic Initiatives and Public Policy at the Central Arizona Project. She oversees CAP’s strategic development, stakeholder relations, legislative affairs, and programs related to the Colorado River. She also oversees the Central Arizona Ground Water District which is a division of the CAP.

Ms. Pearthree is a Professional Engineer (Civil) with 30 years of experience in the water industry. Prior to joining CAP in 2009, she was a Principal Project Manager with CH2M Hill and also spent 10 years as the Deputy Director of the City of Tucson Water Department.

She holds a Master of Science degree from the University of Arizona in Geosciences and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oberlin College in Geology.



Community Water Coalition, Karilyn Roach, Coordinator

As Coordinator for the Community Water Coalition, Karilyn Roach brings a passion for promoting sustainability and community building in a way that has direct impacts for human communities and the natural environment. The Coalition works to provide leadership and guidance toward water policy that sustains healthy ecosystems and quality of life and respects our diverse community values. Karilyn holds a MS in Urban Planning from of the University of Arizona and a BA in English Literature from San Francisco State University.


Julia Fonesca Photo

Pima County Office of Sustainability and Conservation, Julia Fonseca, Environmental Planning Manager

 Ms. Fonseca has worked on land and water issues in southern Arizona since 1986. She is Environmental Planning Manager for the Office of Sustainability and Conservation at Pima County where she works with other individuals, agencies and groups toward protecting natural resources. She co-authored a widely cited report for EPA regarding the ecological and hydrological significance of ephemeral and intermittent streams in the Southwestern US. She formerly worked as a hydrologist and geologist.



Southern Arizona Water Users Association, Warren Tenney, President

Warren Tenney is the Assistant General Manager for Metro Water District, where he has worked since 1994.  In 2014, he was re-elected to a second six year-term to represent Pima County on the Board of the Central Arizona Project.  He is currently the Vice-President of the CAP Board and serving as Chairman of the Finance, Audit & Power Committee.  Warren Tenney was active in the formation of the Water Conservation Alliance of Southern Arizona (Water CASA) and the Southern Arizona Water Users Association (SAWUA).  He is currently the President of SAWUA.  He participated on the Water Resources Development Commission serving as co-chair of the Environmental Working Group.  He is a member of AZ Water Association and chaired the Water Resources Committee for 6 years.  He is a fourth generation Arizonan and earned his M.A. at Northern Arizona University.  


kip edited

Tucson Regional Water Coalition, Christopher T. (Kip) Volpe, Co-Chair

Kip is the Vice President and Treasurer for The Estes Co, a multi-generational, full spectrum Tucson and Arizona real estate development company. Kip oversees the operations of its various related entities including Vail Water Company in his capacity of Vice President. Kip has worked on water related projects with the Arizona Corporation Commission, Central Arizona Project, CAWCD, Department of Environmental Quality and Arizona Department of Water Resources as well as various local agencies.

In 2014, Kip negotiated a pioneering Wheeling Agreement between Vail Water Company and Tucson Water and the subsequent approval of a water company rate structure, including a surcharge for direct delivery of CAP to Vail customers, with the Arizona Corporation Commission. Vail was the first private water company in Arizona to have Central Arizona Project water delivered directly to their customers via a third party Wheeling Agreement. In 2015, Vail received a Designation of Assured Water Supply from ADWR that included, again for the first time in history, an inclusion of CAP water via a Wheeling Agreement.

Kip is a member of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council and currently serves as co-chairman of the Tucson Regional Water Coalition, a group of southern Arizona businesses with affiliations to over 25,000 employees and agents. Kip is Treasurer of the Rialto Theatre Foundation and has been a Board member since 2013.

Kip graduated in 1978 with a B.S. in Accounting from the University of Arizona and received his Certified Public Accountant certificate in 1980. Kip worked with Big 8 and national accounting firms Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co. (now known as KPMG) and Kenneth Leventhal & Company (now known as Ernst & Young) from 1978-82 which provided him with a diverse industry background.



Albert Elias

Tucson Water, Albert Elias, Acting Director and Assistant City Manager

Albert Elias, a native Tucsonan and University of Arizona graduate, has provided leadership and commitment to collaboration while serving the City of Tucson since 1984 as a city planner and administrator. Albert is an Assistant City Manager responsible for several city departments including transportation, water, environmental services, housing and community development, planning and development services and real estate. Additionally, Albert is currently serving as the acting director of Tucson Water until such time as a new director is selected. Albert is thrilled to work alongside colleagues committed to delivering water to customers in an innovative, cost-effective and sustainable manner.


Fernando Molina Photo

Tucson Water, Fernando Molina, Public Information Officer

Fernando Molina has over 25 years of professional experience in water management, including eight years assisting with water rights verification and serving as compliance officer with the Tucson Active management Area Office of the Arizona Department of Water Resources. He served as Conservation Program Manager for Tucson Water from 1991-2009, responsible for planning, development, and implementation of all aspects of conservation programming. Since 2009, he has served as Public Information Officer for Tucson Water where he still oversees the water conservation program, but is also responsible for all public information and education efforts, including media and community relations, and also provides support on various policy and planning issues.


Sign Up