Governor Doug Ducey's remarks: WATEC Israel 2015

News Release

October 13, 2015

Thank you, and good morning, everyone. What a privilege and a pleasure it is to be here in the company of such distinguished guests: business leaders, policy experts and engineers, former and current elected officials, and some of the most innovative and influential decision-makers in the world.

I was truly honored by the invitation from Economy Minister Dery to attend WATEC Israel this year. This is a unique and unparalleled opportunity to talk to, learn from, and collaborate with global leaders on crucial issues – whether in addressing challenges, identifying solutions or capitalizing on opportunities.

And as governor of the state of Arizona, I see enormous, boundless potential for our relationship with Israel. The similarities between our two regions – both geographically and historically – are vast, and quite striking.

This is perhaps best demonstrated in the way we’ve been able to build thriving economies in an arid desert landscape. Both Israel and Arizona have had to make difficult choices to ensure the availability of an adequate water supply for their citizens.

Historically, water has been one of the most important – and often most contentious – issues for us. We can all agree it’s one of the most dynamic components of our regions, and an absolutely vital factor in the health and strength of our economies.

And that means we must be vigilant and proactive in how we manage it. We must ensure that it’s done efficiently, responsibly and profitably. Fortunately, Israel and Arizona have been doing that for decades. Israel’s Water Law passed in 1959 was the culmination of nearly 40 years of planning, adapting, decision-making and preparing for the future.

The passage of that law created a comprehensive water management framework that included efficient water use practices; building of robust infrastructure; and the addition of desalination efforts – all of which has led to the development of significant water supplies and has contributed to the vitality of the region.

Whether it’s the way you’ve been able to utilize and enhance desalination technology, or the fact that 80 percent of the sewage in Israel is treated and reused – accounting for some of the highest wastewater reuse rates in the world – Israel has it figured out.

And I’m proud to say that, like Israel, Arizona is also a leader in conservation and reuse. Our 1980 Groundwater Management Act sets requirements similar to those in Israel’s water laws. And with the adoption of this act, Arizona has been at the forefront of protecting water and its users.

Also like Israel, Arizona leads the nation in implementing water recycling and reuse programs. More than 95 percent of treated wastewater generated within central Arizona serves beneficial uses – including agriculture, municipal, groundwater recharge, power generation, industrial, golf-course irrigation and more. And, since the adoption of the Groundwater Management Act, Arizona has significantly reduced unsustainable groundwater use in urban areas.

Because of all the careful and visionary planning that went into this Act – and because of all the continuous improvement that has been going on since the earliest days of statehood – Arizona and its water providers have stored 9 million acre-feet underground for future use. That’s enough water to serve 18 million households.

In the period from 1957 to 2013, Arizona, as a whole, reduced its water consumption by 100,000 acre feet. We use less water today than we did in 1957.

When you think about the fact that, since then, Arizona’s population has increased six-fold – and our gross domestic income has increased 19-fold – that’s pretty remarkable.

We know that we can share technology, best management practices, planning methodologies and information in partnership with Israel to address our challenges and improve our sustainable water future.

While both regions have been successful in managing our water supplies, we face similar water resource challenges looking ahead to the future. We are dealing with the impacts of ongoing drought conditions, we have high demands for agricultural use and we have projected increases in municipal water demand due to projected growth in population.

In 2014, Arizona released its Strategic Vision for Water Supply Sustainability, which identified potential water supply challenges over the next 100 years – as well as strategies to address those challenges and ensure water supply sustainability for Arizona’s future. 

I know Israel also has developed a master plan for long-term management and development of its water supplies.

One of the biggest challenges facing Arizona is managing the Colorado River, which supplies 40 percent of our annual water supply. There’s an ongoing debate as to whether or not the reduction of flow in the River over the last 15 years is due to temporary drought, or if it’s the “new normal.” And to make matters more complicated, the management of the River is shared with the United States, the Republic of Mexico and six other states, with a complex legal structure governing the use of the River.

We’ve been working together to find the flexibility to better manage the River within the law – and many of our collaborative efforts have been successful. But as we all know, in water management, there’s always work to be done, and there always will be. There are no off-days when it comes to protecting and conserving this most valuable resource.

And as we’ve seen today, Arizona and Israel have unmatched, endless potential to benefit from a partnership in these efforts. Our water histories are largely stories of success, driven by careful planning, foreword thinking, visionary ideas and tough decisions.

We share many of the same uncertainties and vulnerabilities, of course. But these are more than just challenges – they are opportunities. Opportunities for Israel and Arizona to work with and learn from each other … to exchange and share information and ideas regarding water management planning that would provide a long-term mutual benefit to both regions.

A partnership between Israel and Arizona is something I’m excited about pursuing. I can’t wait to bring back to Arizona everything I’ve learned from being here: the people I’ve met, the stellar policy experts and brilliant leaders, and the valuable information I’ve learned from all of them.

I’m confident this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing from each other. On behalf of the State of Arizona, I look forward to your partnership and friendship for years to come. Thank you.