There may come a point when cities don’t have a choice to have people use less water. In Arizona, a while back, Tucson used water rates to get people to use less water and they had some success. That may be because Tucson is a little different from the rest of Arizona. Here in Phoenix, when water conservation folks suggest people may not need as much green grass and lush landscaping, people don’t take it very well.

How do you make connections between water issues and what goes on in the statehouse and western legislatures?

In most cases, the legislature and governor will have to become involved at the top level with various interstate water agreements. Back in 2007, when Colorado River states had to approve a plan to deal with future shortages, some or all of the elements had to go through legislatures. When I first started, I got to know the members of the committee in the House and Senate who oversaw water issues. In the West, there is usually at least one committee in the Legislature that deals with water. It is the old fashioned get to know committee members and track bills through the legislature. Also, most of the big water providers have lobbyists.

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Joel Campbell is CJR's correspondent for Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. An associate journalism professor at Brigham Young University, he is the past Freedom of Information chairman for the Society of Professional Journalists and was awarded the Honorary Publisher Award by the Utah Press Association for his advocacy work on behalf of journalists in the Utah Legislature. Follow him on Twitter @joelcampbell.