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2020 Summit finds renewed relevance amidst Arizona water battle


Photo by Ben Cugno ’24

By Henry Walters ’25

Brophy’s 2020 Summit was titled “Water is Life”. It highlighted the importance of water to Arizona’s way of life, and the lessons it taught are more applicable now than ever, as Arizona descends into a water crisis.

On Jan. 12, 2023, the residents of Rio Verde Foothills filed a lawsuit against the City of Scottsdale, to try to force the city to resume water services to the area. The City of Scottsdale had previously cut off the area from its municipal water supply.

And on Jan. 20, the judge ruled in favor of the City of Scottsdale , deciding that the City did not need to provide water access again to the Rio Verde Foothills residents. The ruling stated, “Given the current drought conditions in the area, loss of water to anyone is a hardship. But the Plaintiffs have not shown that they are unable to access water at all. They just cannot access it from the Scottsdale Standpipe at this time.”

Over a year ago, Scottsdale had warned Rio Verde residents that their water supply could be cut off. They made the warning due to “projections of a historic drought and dwindling reservoir levels in the western U.S.”, according to Emma Newburger of CNBC.

This Rio Verde-Scottsdale battle has received national attention from outlets like ABC News, The New York Times and The Washington Post. The showdown highlights the multitude of issues caused by water shortages along the Colorado River.

For years now, drought conditions have continued to decline in the Colorado River basin. The federal government has expressed concern about the water usage of many states in the area, as the Colorado River’s losses have become staggering and reservoirs have continued to dry up.

The issue of water, especially in Arizona, is not new to those who have been at Brophy for at least the past few years. According to Brophy’s website, the annual summit “highlights an issue that is particularly relevant and informs students on its nuances, as well as its social and political ramifications.” The 2020 Summit was focused on educating students about water challenges in Arizona and beyond.

The summit highlighted the different ongoing water crises in the Southwest. It also included speeches and presentations concerning water management and conservation, and what the next generation  can do to help mitigate the water crises. The keynote speakers throughout the summit were Fr. Joseph Fortier, SJ, Mr. Kevin Fedarko and Mr. Ed Kabotie.

Fr. Fortier served on the Colville Indian Reservation outside of Spokane, Washington, and has participated in multiple water studies concerned with pollution and its effect on health. Mr. Fedarko is a senior editor for Outdoor, and works as a part-time river guide in Grand Canyon National Park. Mr. Kabotie is a singer and songwriter who focuses on the Colorado Plateau and the people who live there.

The contents of the summit are now back in the spotlight, as Arizona’s water battles gain national attention.

To better inform residents about how to conserve water, the Arizona Department of Water Resources published a list of water conservation tips. At the top of the list includes checking for leaks around the house and not letting the water run while you wash your hands or the dishes.

As we head into this year’s Summit on Human Dignity, it is important to remember that the issues discussed do in fact have real world consequences and will continue to be an issue even after they are discussed.

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Henry Walters
Henry Walters, News Editor
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