/ Modified dec 7, 2018 5:18 p.m.

Water Policy; Mexican President Inaugurated; OSIRIS-REx Arrives

Plus, understanding a nationwide study on the depletion of groundwater supplies.

Water conservation is already primed to be a key issue in 2019. In a recent op-ed, Gov. Doug Ducey said he wants more funding in next year's budget to protect water levels in Lake Mead. That will be up to lawmakers like Republican State Rep. Russell Bowers, who will take over as House speaker next year. He recently spoke to Vanessa Barchfield about some of the concerns he's heard from stakeholders across the Arizona as policymakers work toward finalizing a Drought Contingency Plan.

"A problem theme is that people see water sources as local. 'This is our water in Cochise County. This is our water in Yuma. This is our water in Mohave, and we don't want you guys to take it,'" Bowers said, adding: "And we don't own water. We own the rights to use water."

While much of the focus is on Colorado River water, many communities in Southern Arizona rely on groundwater. A recent study found groundwater supplies nationwide fall short of previous estimates. Arizona 360 learned more from Jennifer McIntosh, a researcher in the study and hydrology professor at the University of Arizona. She explained findings show the availability of fresh groundwater resources is about half of what was estimated in earlier studies.

"We not only looked at that groundwater is being depleted from the top down, but we also investigated how groundwater is being depleted from the bottom up," McIntosh said.

As Mexico’s newly inaugurated president settles into office, many are watching and waiting to see how President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's policies will shape ties with border states like Arizona. For insight, Arizona 360 turned to Javier Osorio, an associate professor at the University of Arizona School of Government and Public Policy and an expert on criminal violence in Latin America. Osorio discussed new administration's stated approach to issues like trade and immigration.

Gov. Doug Ducey and a delegation from Arizona attended the inauguration of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in an early effort to connect with the new administration. KJZZ Mexico City Bureau Chief Rodrigo Cervantes discussed the importance of this outreach.

“We had what was probably the largest commission of people coming from the United States in the history of Mexican inaugurations,” said Cervantes. More than140 people at the inauguration were part of delegations representing several states, including Montana. Cervantes also discussed how López Obrador wants to boost the economy in Mexico's border region.

The OSIRIS-REx mission marked a milestone this week when the unmanned spacecraft arrived at the asteroid Bennu. The University of Arizona-led mission aims to collect a sample from the asteroid and deliver it back to earth in 2023. OSIRIS-REx Image Processing Lead Scientist Dani DellaGuistina discussed some of the mission's crucial next steps in the coming year, and what scientists hope to learn from Bennu.

"Perhaps these asteroids provided the building blocks for life on earth," DellaGuistina said.

Arizona 360
Arizona 360 airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on PBS 6 and Saturdays at 8 p.m. on PBS 6 PLUS. See more from Arizona 360.
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