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CAP: Desalination may be key to Valley's water future

PHOENIX -- The Valley gets much of its water from the Colorado River but the supply from that river may dwindle in the future and the state may have to search for other ways to quench the thirst of residents.

The Central Arizona Project takes water from the Colorado River and distributes it throughout much of Arizona, including Phoenix and Tucson. But the river is drying up and no longer reaches the Gulf of California. It's been named one of America's 13 most endangered rivers by "American Rivers."

"We know the Colorado has less flow in it than it did when it was allocated to seven states," said David Modeer, general manager of the Central Arizona Project. "That, in turn with growth and needs for it in industry and agriculture, means there is less water to go around to everybody."

Modeer said Arizona needs more sources for water. One could come from localized desalination.

"That means taking out of water that is brackish or contaminated," Modeer said.

Arizona has some areas where the water is like that. Modeer said that a lot of it can be found in the Buckeye and Yuma areas.

"There's a lot of highly saline water," he said. "It's not as much as ocean water, but, still, it's more than you would use directly

"We can build desalination plants at not a real high cost compared to desalinating ocean water, and use that to supplement our supplies in the Phoenix metropolitan area and even on down to Tucson."

Modeer said that a long-term project to desalinate water from the Gulf of California could help Arizona's water supply for the next 30 to 50 years, but that would require an agreement between Arizona and Mexico.

About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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