FLAGSTAFF, AZ — Water is life in the desert, and 40% of Arizona's water supply comes from underground.
There's a concern regarding that groundwater, according to Coconino County Supervisor Patrice Horstman.
"Our concern is that Coconino County and other rural areas do not have the ability to manage or monitor their groundwater," she said.
80% of Arizona's groundwater remains unregulated. Managing it was a key topic discussed at an event in Flagstaff on Wednesday, led by Arizona's regional office of the National Audubon Society.
"The event was very focused on groundwater, and we heard from a variety of panelists about the issues they're worried about and why," said Haley Paul with the National Audubon Society.
More than 70 people attended the event, ranging from ranchers to realtors, bringing up their concerns and learning about what's being done at the Arizona legislature regarding groundwater management, including a possible option for rural communities that is not currently in place.
"We're working with the [Arizona] Department of Water Resources on what to have available so that rural Arizona can take a proactive approach to managing its water," Paul stated.
Ideas are still being discussed so that groundwater in rural communities won't be taken without regard, including in Coconino County.
"The belief here is that whoever has the longest straw or whoever puts their straw in first is the one who wins," Supervisor Horstman said. "That's not the way for sustainability, and that's not the way for water management."
Audubon Southwest will host a similar event in Kingman in November.