When former Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Floyd Dominy was 97, the National Water Resources Association awarded him its first-ever Water Buffalo Award for his many years of service and tremendous leadership during his 10 years as commissioner. The evening before the award was to be presented, the National Water Resources Association hosted a small, private dinner for Commissioner Dominy and his son, a retired three-star general. John Sullivan and Fritz Beeson of Salt River Project were present. As we sat down and introductions went around the table, Commissioner Dominy took particular interest in the Salt River Project representatives. “Ah, it is good to see friends from the Salt River Project again,” Commissioner Dominy said. “Your project contract was special. It was the first to have a hydro component, and you were the first to pay back your contract.” Commissioner Dominy continued for some time discussing the Salt River Project in great detail. Commissioner Dominy had a near-perfect memory and could recite testimony he had presented to Congress in the 1950s. As he discussed the Salt River Project, it was clear that he was impressed by its design and felt that Salt River Project was “always a leader.”

This issue of Municipal Water Leader features Arizona water leaders and tells exciting stories of the innovations they make to ensure that an arid state has the water it needs to thrive and grow. John Sullivan’s 45-year career at Salt River Project exemplifies water leadership and planning at its very best. Central Arizona has been greatly blessed by his service.

Ted Cooke is the interim general manager of the Central Arizona Project, Arizona’s largest contractor of Colorado River water with an annual entitlement of nearly 1.5 million acre-feet (almost 500 billion gallons) during normal supply conditions. Mr. Cooke explains to readers “why the desert flourishes and the economy continues to grow.”

Senator Jon Kyl and Kathleen Ferris bring readers a story of yet another Arizona water innovation, the 1980 Arizona Groundwater Management Act, which continues to be one of the nation’s most visionary laws for the use and protection of groundwater. They explain how the pumping of groundwater in excess replenishment has been reduced from 6 million acrefeet in 1980 to about 178,000 acre-feet in 2010—a spectacular accomplishment.

Kathryn Sorensen, director of water services for the city of Phoenix, explains how the city has embraced a water management strategy for the 2.5 million residents of the Valley of the Sun that emphasizes incentives for water conservation rather than government mandates.

Water leadership and integration are apparent in the work of the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Its director, Tom Buschatzke, explains how Arizona is meeting the challenges of managing water uses in collaboration with water users to secure a coordinated and integrated approach to both water supply and water quality. In another article, Mr. Buschatzke shares what Arizonans are doing to store Colorado River water in a water bank so that they can withdraw it during droughts. The practice is highly effective and entirely reverses the idea of a rainy-day fund.

Our other writers also make clear the critical role that water leadership plays in our lives. Bruce Hallin, the director of water rights and contracts, Salt River Project, and Marcus Selig, interim president of the National Forest Foundation, make a strong case for the connection of healthy forests and healthy watersheds and how to make that connection work for municipal water. The vibrant partnership between Salt River Project and the National Forest Foundation in headwater forests is reducing the risk of uncharacteristically severe wildfire, limiting erosion and sedimentation, and improving wetlands and stream channels.

Jason Hauter, a member of the Gila River Indian Community, and Dave Roberts, senior director of water resources at Salt River Project, collaborate on an article about the innovative partnership known as Gila River Water Storage, LLC. Gila River Water Storage uses the opportunities of tribal water rights and Arizona’s water banking program to pursue storage and exchange of water that benefits the tribe and to secure 100-year renewable water supplies that support economic growth and development in Arizona.

Guy Carpenter is Carollo’s water reuse technical practice director and president of the Water Reuse Association. He uses his perspective to inform readers about water reuse accomplishments in Arizona.

Arizona’s motto is “God enriches.” We are confident that our readers will appreciate the role of Arizona’s water leaders in preserving and enhancing its precious endowment of water riches.

Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Municipal Water Leader and Irrigation Leader magazines. He is also president of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations, marketing, and publishing company he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at Kris.Polly@wateretrategies.com