Arizona | Safe Yield Not So Great, Reports Morrison Institute

ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy has published its report titled “The Myth of Safe Yield,” raising challenges to the State’s 40-year Groundwater Management Act.  The report is co-authored by water attorney Kathleen Ferris and Sarah Porter, Director of The Kyl Center for Water Policy.

Active Management Area
Map Source: Arizona Department of Water Resources

“Safe yield” is a management goal for “Active Management Areas” (or AMAs) established under the Act. The Arizona Municipal Water Users Association (AMWUA) defines “safe yield” as ” the amount of water pumped out of the ground should be balanced by an equal amount that goes back into the aquifer.” 2025 marks the safe yield target for some AMAs.

Among other things, key points raised in the Morrison Institue’s report include:

• Municipal conservation is not outpacing water demands;
• Agricultural efficiency is not reducing groundwater use;
• Long-term groundwater pumping rights are hindering achievement of safe yield; and
• Legislative conflicts, such as developments relying on groundwater as an assured water supply.

Although several proposals to solve the groundwater problem are given, the Institute’s report paints a grim picture for the state, warning “If Arizona is to prosper into the next century, our focus needs to turn to what is essential for our future: The preservation of our groundwater and our increasingly fragile aquifers. Our survival is at stake.”

Download it for free: The Myth of Safe Yield


Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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