In a feature story titled “Planting Sustainability Ideas” in the State Press Magazine, State Climatologist Nancy Selover tells reporter Shawn Raymundo that “(t)hough 60 percent of the U.S. is in some form of drought … this year is actually mild compared to previous years throughout the decade.”

In the Aug. 29, 2012 online report, Selover noted that “(s)ince the Valley was a major agricultural area for more than 100 years, irrigation systems and canals connected to the Salt and Colorado Rivers were built by the Salt River Project and Central Arizona Project early on to combat the lack of rainfall and prevent water shortages during dry spells.”

Selover, a senior sustainability scientist with the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, said in Raymundo’s story: “We have good planning because originally we were all agriculture in the Phoenix metropolitan area…. (There) was a lot of farmland and farmers and ranchers who owned the land had some tough issues at the end of the 19th century … they had a really long dry spell.”

Another ASU sustainability scientist, Hallie Eakin, also weighed in on the issue in the story. “It’s always to the interest of the farmer to use their water in the most efficient way possible because of the key resources,” said Eakin, an associate professor in ASU’s School of Sustainability.

Eakin is an expert on how farmers, especially in Latin America and Mexico, are adapting to climate changes and water scarcity. More about her research is at http://sustainability.asu.edu/research/bio/7319/hallie-eakin.

Selover is a research professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. More about her research is at http://sustainability.asu.edu/people/persbio.php?pid=4016.

Historical state climate data, including information about droughts and monsoons, is available from the Arizona State Climate Office, headquartered at ASU, at http://azclimate.asu.edu.