By Daniel Stefanski |
Arizona Republican legislators made sure that water investments received sizable contributions in the recently negotiated budget deal for the state.
In a press release issued last week, Representative Gail Griffin, the Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Energy & Water highlighted a realized commitment to strengthen “Arizona’s water resources by directing over $360 million of state general fund dollars to be allocated to projects and programs that help to promote the conservation, development, and enhancement of water in Arizona.”
Griffin lauded Republicans’ efforts to include this funding for the state’s water security and future, saying, “Never before in our state’s history has water been as important to our state’s economic prosperity and individual liberty as it is today. As Republicans, we will continue to find solutions to Arizona’s most pressing issues, from water security to housing availability. We will continue to make investments in Arizona’s long-term water future.”
The release listed several areas where funds were invested: Water infrastructure projects, Reconstruction of a levee, Design and construction of a recharge basin, Installation of new irrigation systems and xeriscaping, Water project assistance for cities, towns, and irrigation districts in rural counties, Wastewater system improvements, Construction of groundwater delivery infrastructure, Brackish groundwater recovery pilot program, Statewide water resources planning, Water supply and demand assessments, Assured and adequate water supply administration, Stream adjudication support, Rural water studies, Water protection fund for projects that address conservation and watershed improvement, Conservation and drought program, Brackish groundwater study, Water conservation projects, On-farm irrigation efficiency projects, Water quality fee fund, PFAS mitigation, Safe drinking water program, Direct potable reuse of treated wastewater, Water infrastructure and commerce grants, Long-term water augmentation, Rehabilitation and drilling of new water wells.
Earlier this session, Representative Griffin was named as a co-chair of the Joint Legislative Study Committee on Water Security, which was formed by Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma and Senate President Warren Petersen to “convene and solicit information from water users, stakeholders, and the public regarding state solutions to address water security in Arizona.”
When announcing the formation of this committee, Speaker Toma said, “The availability of water for the success of all industries in our state is critical to our economy. Strengthening our existing water resources while we secure our future water supply is a top priority as we work to achieve common-sense solutions for our state. His counterpart in the Senate, Petersen, also stated, “From the 1980s Groundwater Management Act to last year’s historic investment in WIFA, the Legislature has led and will continue to lead the water policy solutions that require legislative action to implement.”
Water policy will most certainly be an issue of contention in a divided government in the years ahead. Republicans in the state legislature and Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs have already proven that they have varying opinions about how to lead the Grand Canyon State forward in this critical area. Democrat Attorney General Kris Mayes has also weighed in with her perspectives on Arizona’s water security, attempting to make sure that her office has a seat at the table for future actions.
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.