This week on Fathoming Water we talk with Central Arizona Water Conservation District (otherwise known as CAP) President Lisa Atkins and Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschazke. I got the chance to sit down with the both of them after the Sustainable Water for Southern Arizona: Current Conditions and Future Prospects community forum held on November 6th, 2015.
I was very grateful for the opportunity to interview both Lisa and Tom at the same time because they work so closely on water every day as we will hear. We get the chance to understand how water responsibilities are divided in Arizona between the Department of Water Resources and the Central Arizona Project. Arizona is not in a crises like California because our demand has not outpaced supply, but as was brought up in the forum Arizona is at a point of “critical juncture.” Arizona has been at the forefront of water reuse, smart farming, underground water storage and groundwater management but both make the point we still need to stay ahead of the game, especially with the threat of shortage on the Colorado River. It was nice to discover that Tom and Lisa hold communication and collaboration between them in the highest regard. This collaboration and openness to negation and conversation with stakeholders places Arizona water users in a strong position going forward.
Their bios 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).
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.