Arizona Legislature Approves Historic Funding for Water Projects But Fails to Protect Rural Groundwater
Statement of Kevin Moran, Associate Vice President, Regional Affairs
(PHOENIX, AZ – June 28, 2022) The Arizona Legislature approved legislation June 25 that dedicates $1.2 billion to water projects in response to plummeting Colorado River reservoirs. However, for the third year in a row, the Legislature failed to respond to pleas from rural communities seeking to manage their groundwater supplies and secure their water future.
“The Legislature’s approval of additional funding for water projects in the 2022-2023 budget is encouraging, especially $200 million for historic investments in improving surface water flows, groundwater recharge and aquifer health, and watershed protection. I want to especially commend and thank Rep. Morgan Abraham, Rep. Andres Cano, Sen. Lisa Otondo and Rep. Reginald Bolding, who all helped lead the way to this conservation funding. At the same time, the legislation fell far short of what’s needed to meet the daunting challenges we face in Arizona of megadrought supercharged by climate change,” said Kevin Moran, Associate Vice President, Regional Affairs, Environmental Defense Fund.
“As Colorado River conditions are becoming more dire by the day, we need an all-of-the-above approach to managing our water supplies that includes conservation, cost-effective augmentation and a regulatory framework. It’s not enough to focus on increasing water supplies through desalination, which to the extent feasible will take at least a decade and only backfill a fraction of the cuts in Colorado River water that Arizona has already taken. And such augmentation doesn’t help rural Arizona communities protect the water supplies they DO have, nor the rivers, streams and springs on which we all rely. Arizona’s communities and unique water-nourished places need protections now.
In the next few months we need to begin wisely deploying the conservation funding approved by the Legislature, greatly expand conservation of Colorado River water and move toward a greater commitment to water conservation across all of society. And we must resume work soon on the unfinished task of providing rural Arizona communities with the groundwater protection tools and resources they are asking for,” said Moran.
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