Fathoming Water Episode 9: Marie Pearthree
This week we take a trip up to Phoenix to talk to Central Arizona Project Deputy General Manager of Strategic Initiatives & Public Policy Marie Peathree. Ms. Pearthree oversees Resource Planning and Analysis, the Colorado River Program, Stakeholder Relations and Strategic Initiatives, Legislative Affairs and Board Management, and the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District, which is a subsidiary of CAP. Ms. Pearthree is a Professional Engineer with 30 years of experience in the water industry. Prior to joining CAP in 2009, she was a Principal Project Manager with CH2M Hill an environmental and engineering consulting firm, and also spent 10 years as the Deputy Director of the City of Tucson Water Department.
As we will discover her responsibilities are astounding, and her and her colleagues work, as of 2010, was responsible for almost half of Arizona’s Gross State Product. In the previous 25 years CAP generated over $1 trillion dollars of Arizona gross state product and their contribution to gross state product keeps growing. The economic impact of CAP is truly astounding and the population growth Arizona has experienced could not have happened without it. The fact shortage on the Colorado River could put the CAP in danger of not being able to deliver its full amount of allocated water is a primary concern, and that is why planning that includes buffering for drought through groundwater recharge is such an important part of Ms. Pearthree’s job. The potential that CAP brought to Arizona also means that we are vulnerable if the CAP isn’t managed correctly, but from what we have discovered so far in this series is that the CAP is very well managed. This is accomplished through consensus building, as well as looking into the future at demographic changes and climate change, both of which could cause shortage on the Colorado River. Ms. Pearthree gracefully negotiates between end users, stakeholders, municipal and state legislatures, and works with the Department of the Interior closely, not only with the Bureau of Reclamation but with Indian Affairs and their tribes, which are sovereign nations. It is a complex web of stakeholders and factors that affect CAP water deliveries, and Ms. Pearthee we discover enjoys the challenges that go into making such an important and valuable resource available for delivery.