Kathryn Sorensen

Director of Research, Kyl Center for Water Policy at Morrison Institute

Senior Global Futures Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory Arizona State University

Kathryn Sorensen

Contact Information

Email: kathryn.sorensen@asu.edu

Research Interests & Background

Professor Sorensen works to advance the sustainable management of water resources in Arizona and the Colorado River basin.  As Director of Phoenix Water Services until October 2020, she was responsible for the reliable delivery of safe, clean drinking water in a desert city for nearly 1.7 million inhabitants.  She also oversaw the city’s wastewater collection system as well as wastewater treatment for approximately 2.5 million people in the Valley of the Sun.  Prior to this, she served in the City of Mesa for many years as a water resource manager, in which position she led Mesa’s efforts in the Gila River Indian Community water rights settlement as well as the White Mountain Apache Tribe water rights settlement, and ultimately steered the water and wastewater utilities as director for four years.

Kathryn’s service in water management includes positions as a governor-appointed member of the Arizona Water Banking Authority Commission, Member of the Arizona Colorado River Reconsultation Committee, Member of the Board of Directors of the Water Research Foundation, Member of the State of Arizona’s Colorado River Steering Committee, Advisory Committee member of the Water Resources Research Center at the University of Arizona, Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, Member of the Water & Health Advisory Council, Member of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Effective Utility Management Utility Leadership Group, as well as Member of the Rates and Charges Subcommittee of the American Water Works Association.  She has provided testimony before the United States Senate on drought and water resilience. 

At the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University, Dr. Sorensen focuses on Colorado River policy, sustainable groundwater management, and water equity. 

Selected Colorado River Publications & Presentations


Kyl Center for Water Policy, Ten Tenets of Water Equity, April, 2021


Economic Growth Versus Water Scarcity.  The Water Council Water Leaders Summit, October 6, 2022

The Impacts of a Future Shortage to Contracted Cities.  Agribusiness & Water Council of Arizona Annual Meeting & Water Conference, September 16, 2022

What Lies Ahead—Arizona’s Water Supply.  Arizona League of Cities and Towns, August 31, 2022.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:  How does the Law of the River Work (or Not) Along this Continuum?  Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment 42nd Annual Colorado Law Conference on Natural Resources, June 16, 2022

Extreme Drought, Heightened Water Demands, and Water Reuse’s Moment.  National Association of Clean Water Act Agencies Winter Conference, February 2, 2022.

PBS Newshour Tipping Point: River on the Brink. November 10, 2022.

Lower Basin Perspectives.  Upper Colorado River Basin Water Forum:  Negotiating Resilience, November 4, 2021

Equity in the Colorado River Basin:  How to Sustainably Manage a Shrinking Resource.  Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment 41st Annual Colorado Law Conference on Natural Resources, October 1, 2021

Planning for a Drought Resilient City.  Singapore International Water Week, June 2021

State of the West.  Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, May 13, 2021

Water Equity.  Arizona Water Law Conference, April 29, 2021

Funding Water Systems While Ensuring Affordability and Equity.  Public Policy Institute of California, November 13, 2020

On-Ramp to a Resilient Future.  University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center Annual Conference, June 19, 2020

Water Equity.  Meeting of the Minds Annual Summit, February 2020

Watering the Desert.  Arizona State University Humanities Desert Attunement Symposium, February 2020

The Limits to Growth Revisited.  Ten Across Water Summit, March 2019

Unfolding the Regulatory Challenges and Opportunities in an Increasingly Water Scarce Environment.  National Association of Clean Water Act Agencies Winter Conference, 2019

Measuring Household Affordability for Sound Rate Setting.  American Water Works Association Annual Meeting, June, 2018

Testimony before the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, March 22, 2018.

Developments in Groundwater Conflict.  Dividing the Waters:  National Judicial College, 2018

How to Lead in Developing Water Conscious Communities & in Maintaining Water Infrastructure.  National Association of Lieutenant Governors, 2018

Technological Innovations that Improve Customer Service.  Singapore International Water Week, May 2018