CAP canal

CAP Aqueduct

Does Arizona, the nation’s second-fastest-growing state — and largely desert — have enough water to keep up with that growth or even sustain its current population?

A major part of the answer lies in the Central Arizona Project — the canal that delivers Colorado River water 336 miles from Lake Havasu to dozens of communities in Pima, Maricopa and Pinal counties.

In the Nov 4 election, six candidates are running for four open seats representing Pima County on the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD) board of directors, a 15-member board that essentially runs CAP. It’s a nonpartisan election to six-year terms.

Besides Pima County’s four seats, Maricopa County has 10 seats on the board and Pinal County has one.

The CAWCD has more than 400 employees who are responsible for system maintenance and operations, repayment obligations and creating water resource programs. A general manager and management team report to the board of directors.

Here are brief profiles of the six Pima County candidates:

Arturo Gabaldón

A Sahuarita resident and president of Community Water Co. of Green Valley, Arturo Gabaldón says he is “committed to sustainable water supplies for our area and the reliable delivery of drinking water.”

“As a CPA and water operator with over 20 years of water industry experience, I will be an effective representative for Pima County,” said Gabaldón. “Because of the weighted voting on the CAP board, the Southern Arizona ‘voice’ is heavily outweighed by Maricopa County. It is therefore critical that our community have knowledgeable, articulate representatives that actively participate in the board and its committees,” he said.

Gabaldón has worked for the Community Water Co. for 18 years. He is also the director and treasurer of the Southern Arizona Water Users Association.

Pat Jacobs

A former administrator of Pima County Justice Courts and a current Northwest Fire District board member, Pat Jacobs has said he would bring a different perspective to the CAWCD board because he is not part of the “professional water community.”

Jacobs served for 30 years as a Court Administrator for the Pima County Consolidated Justice Courts and is the former administrative director of the courts for the State of Arizona.

Stephen Lenihan

With the CAP canal providing Arizona with its largest renewable source of water (approximately 1.5 million acre-feet per year), Stephen Lenihan says “Nothing can be more important to Arizona’s future than managing this resource properly.”

Lenihan says one of his commitments, if elected to the CAWCD board, would be to pursue additional water supplies for the CAP system and “guarantee Southern Arizona receives its fair share.”

A resident of Oro Valley, Lenihan is a land-use and real estate attorney and was previously the president of a private water company.

Sharon Megdal

Sharon Megdal says if elected to the CAWCD board, she will “work hard with fairness and integrity, ask tough questions and contribute to developing long-term solutions.”

“As growth in Central Arizona and drought conditions continue, the CAWCD board will be facing some important policy decisions in the coming years, particularly related to the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District,” she said.

Megdal is a professor at the University of Arizona in the department of Agricultural and Resource Economics as well as the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science. She is director of the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center and director of the University’s Water Sustainability Program.

Warren Tenney

Warren Tenney says his 15 years of experience in the water industry have shown him “the significance of the CAWCD board to Pima County and to Arizona.”

Tenney is the assistant general manager of the Metropolitan Domestic Water Improvement District, a public provider serving northwest Tucson. He is currently the chair of the county-wide Water Conservation Alliance of Southern Arizona.

If elected, Tenney says his main priority would be “to protect our region’s renewable supply, pursue additional supplies if possible, secure reliability features for the CAP system and prepare for possible drought and climate change.”

Tenney says he has been attending CAWCD board meetings for more than three years.

Carol Zimmerman

Carol Zimmerman, the only incumbent candidate, is seeking a second term on the board.

Zimmerman, who owns a political consulting firm in Tucson, says that if re-elected she will help CAP focus its efforts on finding and securing additional water sources.

One proposed method would be to remove large stretches of tamarisk trees along the Colorado River and replace them with cottonwoods, which require 25 percent less water to grow. Another would be to utilize a process known as “cloud seeding” to increase precipitation near the Colorado River.

During her term on the board, CAP initiated a statewide study group, ADD WATER, to determine where additional supplies can be found, how that water will be moved to the three-county area, who will pay for it and how it will be distributed. The nearly year-long process kicked off in late May and Tucson has a prominent seat at the table.

For more information on the Central Arizona Project and the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, visit

Contact reporter Jamie Richardson at the Green Valley News at or 547-9726