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2019 Congressional Conference addresses revolutionizing Arizona’s water future

August 27, 2019
Sethuraman Panchanathan
Dr. Panchanathan

Water is essential to life in the desert. Ensuring we have adequate supplies for today and into the future is critical to our population’s health and growth, our agricultural communities and our economic development strategies.

On August 26, 2019, Arizona State University hosted the 2019 Congressional Conference: Revolutionizing Arizona’s Water Future, in conjunction with University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University. The event brought together close to 200 participants, including congressional leaders, water experts, university researchers and tribal representatives to discuss water futures and allocations, and to explore innovative, entrepreneurial approaches to water conservation and management.

“Today’s conference focused on the need to work in collective, collaborative and innovative fashion to proactively address Arizona’s short and long-term water futures needs,” says Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, executive vice president of Knowledge Enterprise and chief research and innovation officer at ASU. “The event included direct, open dialogue and encouraged conversation and debate between legislators, stakeholders, corporates and university researchers. There was a genuine consensus among participants that we must find creative approaches to solving what amounts to a global grand challenge – that of a safe, reliable, water supply.” Adds Panchanathan, “There’s a recognition that we can’t look back 10 years from now and say we should have brought together the right people, partners and teams to find the right solutions a long time ago. We’re doing it now.”  

The issue of water sustainability and allocation is multi-faceted. Arizona is one of seven states that rely on water from the Colorado River. The Colorado River Basin covers nearly 250,000 square miles, and Arizona gets nearly 40 percent of its water from this vital source.