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Social Vulnerability, Water Resources and Climatic Uncertainty in Exurban Arizona Communities

Verde River

This research focuses on environmental conflict over water resources in the Central Highlands of Arizona. The study area is a rapidly growing groundwater dependent region with declining water resources. 

This research focuses on environmental conflict over water resources in the Central Highlands of Arizona. The study area is a rapidly growing groundwater dependent region with declining water resources. Efforts on the part of the Prescott AMA to go outside its jurisdictional boundaries to take groundwater from a regional aquifer has engendered significant opposition from a variety of environmental groups, joined by major water interests such as the SRP and downstream municipalities. At issue is the potential drying up of the upper Verde River due to aquifer decline, with attendant downstream impacts. The research has examined these conflicts both from the perspective of  geographic vulnerability analysis and from the politics of scale theory. Research on the area continues with a focus on the use of science in environmental decision-making.

Note: This project may no longer be externally funded, but collaborative research opportunities may still exist.

Presentations and Events:
"Pumping groundwater, draining rivers: A political ecology of water and development in rural Arizona."  Paper presented at the annual meetings of the Association of American Geographers.  April, 2007.  San Francisco, California.

"Growth and groundwater in Highland Arizona: The political ecology of a contested resource." Paper presented at the annual meetings of the International Social Science Association.  May, 2006.  Honolulu, Hawaii.

Publications:
Bolin, B., Collins, T. & Darby, K. (in press). Fate of the Verde: Water, environmental conflict and the politics of scale in the Arizona Central Highlands.Geoforum.

Collins, T. & Bolin, B. (2007). Characterizing vulnerability to water scarcity: The case of a groundwater-dependent, rapidly urbanizing region.Environmental Hazards, 7(4), 399-418.

Funding Source:
Decision Center for a Desert City

Bob Bolin, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Kate Darby, IGERT Fellow
Tim Collins, University of Texas, El Paso