Toma, Petersen Take Action On Arizona’s Water Security

Toma, Petersen Take Action On Arizona’s Water Security

By Daniel Stefanski |

Water has always been an issue for the desert, but drought conditions have put even more of a premium on this precious resource; and Arizona Republicans are stepping up to provide solutions for their constituents.

This week, Arizona Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma formed the Joint Legislative Study Committee on Water Security. The purpose of this committee is “to convene and solicit information from water users, stakeholders, and the public regarding state solutions to address water security in Arizona.”

That information, which includes evidence and testimony, includes (1) the state’s existing and future water supplies; (2) methodologies and modeling used to quantify supplies; (3) opportunities and challenges associated with improving water storage and infrastructure; (4) the state’s regulatory and funding framework for augmentation, conservation, efficiency, recharge and reuse efforts; (5) public-private solutions to improve security; (6) the impact of water uncertainty across Arizona’s water users, industry sectors and property owners; and (7) and any other issue the Study Committee deems relevant to its investigation.”

Both Petersen and Toma issued statements with the announcement of this committee’s formation. Petersen said, “Water policy is dictated by statute. 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.”

And Toma stated, “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. We need to study all issues related to water carefully and work to identify any remaining issues that need to be resolved.”

Six members will be appointed by legislative leadership to serve on this committee: three out of the House of Representatives by the Speaker and three out of the Senate by the President. Senator Sine Kerr was first selected by Petersen, and Representative Gail Griffin by Toma. Both were named co-chairs of the committee.

Senator Kerr released the following statement after the news of her appointment to the committee: “Unlike other ‘top-down’ efforts, this Ad Hoc Committee on Water Security will enlist the participation of actual water users to find collaborative water management solutions. The Legislature will continue to be proactive and deliberative in balancing the realities of our water supply with the state’s economic objectives.”

Representative Griffin also provided a quote to accompany her appointment, saying, “Arizona must take an ‘all of the above’ approach to water and find a balance that protects private property rights while promoting the interests and economy of the state. This includes urban and rural, augmentation and conservation, and surface and groundwater, not to mention residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural users and property rights across all land types. I appreciate Speaker Toma for affording the opportunity to explore this issue and for making water a top priority in this legislative session.”

The Director of Communications for the Arizona Senate Republicans told AZ Free News that the Legislature would have the remaining appointments and the agenda for the first meeting by next week.

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.