Water in Arizona: Past, Present, Future
Paul Hirt, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, Arizona State University

Paul Hirt

Water is Arizona’s most precious resource, yet few people know where their water comes from, who provides it, how its quality is assured, or how secure future water supplies are for the state’s 6 million residents. A billboard near Roosevelt Dam on the Salt River proclaimed in the 1960s: “Arizona Grows Where Water Flows.” But growth and the control of water to support it have never been simple uncontested endeavors. There are haves and have nots, a few areas of abundance and vast areas of scarcity, conflicts between farmers, cities, and industry over who gets how much and who pays how much. Federal, tribal, state, and local governments are all involved in developing and distributing water to serve diverse constituents with often competing interests. And what about nature? Who is looking out for Arizona’s native fish and amphibians, and the birds and insects that thrive in the cottonwood and willow forests along our most rare and valuable streamside ecosystems? We face very serious water supply sustainability challenges in the coming decades as the state continues to grow and the climate shifts warmer and drier. Who gets cut when there is a shortage? Who has priority? Who makes these decisions about our water future? ASU Professor of History and Sustainability Paul Hirt takes us on a bird’s eye view of the past, present, and future of water in Arizona.

Flyer for Paul Hirt lecture

Paul Hirt is a professor of history and senior sustainability scholar at Arizona State University, specializing in environmental history. His publications include a book on the history of electric power in the US Northwest and British Columbia titled The Wired Northwest (2012), and more than two dozen articles and book chapters on various topics in environmental history, including two essays on water and sustainability in Arizona. Hirt is the State Scholar for the Smithsonian’s Water/Ways exhibit that is traveling through Arizona from June 2018-May 2020. He is also an elected member of the Board of Directors of Salt River Project.

Light snacks will be available; please enjoy in the lobby and not in the lecture room. Room size is limited so registration will close when the number has been met.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019
6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Biodiversity Knowledge Integration Center
734 W Alameda Dr
Tempe, AZ 85282


Arizona Riparian Council Speaker Series: Paul Hirt