By Terri Jo Neff |
In January, Gov. Doug Ducey pledged that securing Arizona’s water future would be a priority during his last year in office, and on Wednesday he delivered a $1 billion investment toward projects that will bring additional water to the state on a long-term basis and change Arizona’s future.
Ducey signed Senate Bill 1740 during a ceremony attended by several lawmakers and stakeholders. The bill, which the governor’s office called “historic legislation,” will allow Arizona to make significant strides in water conservation and innovative technologies such as desalination. It will also provide state officials the opportunity to identify and develop new innovative long-term water sources.
“This legislation is crucial for our continued growth and prosperity,” Ducey said. “As we’ve done over the past seven and a half years, we came together, brought everyone to the table and delivered for the people of this great state. And by doing so, we are leaving Arizona better and stronger than we found it
SB1740 appropriates more than $1 billion over three years to the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority (WIFA) while expanding the agency’s responsibilities to provide loans and grants to water providers and entities. The funding is earmarked to support importation of water into Arizona, conservation, efficiency and reuses, and new technologies.
During the signing ceremony, Ducey recognized Sen. Sine Kerr (R- Buckeye) and Rep. Gail Griffin (R-Hereford) for chairing their respective chamber’s natural resources committee this session.
The governor also lauded Senate President Karen Fann, House Speaker Rusty Bowers, and minority leaders Rep. Reginald Bolding and Sen. Rebecca Rios for ensuring strong bipartisan support, as only two nay votes were cast against SB1740.
Fann noted that Arizona already had a strong commitment to obtaining water security, but acknowledged the state needed to step up its water conservation, efficiency, and reuse projects.
“Arizona’s economy is booming and in order to sustain that growth, we need to look ahead,” she said after the signing. “This water package does just that.”
Sine, who sponsored SB170, sees the signing of the bill as setting in motion a pathway toward reliable future water sources. “Today we celebrate our action to address the water issues our great state faces,” Kerr said. “All Arizonans now and in the future will benefit from this legislation.”
Water legislation has been a longtime priority for Griffin, who saw passage of SB170 as a collaborative effort among multiple stakeholders. “This critical legislation just makes sense. It’s fair and forward-looking,” Griffin said. “I’m glad we’ve come together to find a solution for our water future.”
One of those vital stakeholders was Arizona Farm Bureau.
“More than most, Arizona’s farmers and ranchers know the value of water,” said AFB President Stefanie Smallhouse. “This forward-thinking legislation will be counted among Arizona’s other great successes in water management, and the Arizona Farm Bureau is thankful to the Governor, leadership and staff in the House and Senate, and all those who came together to make this bipartisan bill a reality.”
Another key stakeholder who supported SB1740 was the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, which has been outspoken about the worsening conditions on the Colorado River which supplies water to much of Arizona.
“This is an important starting point to ensure continual planning and financing of water augmentation, reuse, and conservation,” said Warren Tenney, AMWUA’s executive directors. “Now, we must work together to maximize this historic investment in the wisest ways possible to benefit Arizona now and in the future.”