Groundwater conservation receives state funding

Governor Katie Hobbs says $40 Million Water Resiliency Fund will support projects
Groundwater conservation receives state funding
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 6:28 PM MST|Updated: Jun. 1, 2023 at 6:55 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - On Thursday, June 1, Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs announced new statewide efforts to conserve groundwater. The announcement came on the heels of a move, as required by law she said, to pause to new assured groundwater determinations in Phoenix. The Department of Water Resources will further study the groundwater supply in the west valley because the area is forecast to exceed its 100-year assured groundwater supply. Groundwater has the attention of many areas across Arizona, and attracts a variety of views on how to conserve it.

“I would say the local people need to start thinking about it themselves,” said Avra Valley Irrigation District President John Kai, as he stood in the lobby of the executive tower at the state capitol complex in Phoenix. Kai drove from Marana to Phoenix to hear Governor Katie Hobbs announce a move to secure Arizona’s water future by pausing new assured groundwater determinations, which affect new permits, in the Phoenix Active Management Area.

“It’s now time to focus on protecting our groundwater supplies,” Hobbs said, after applauding the recent agreement among Arizona, California and Nevada to conserve Colorado River water.

Gov. Hobbs said Arizona’s way of ensuring 100-year water supplies for its communities is a model for other states. But with so many parts of the state not covered by Active Management Areas, the challenge for these communities lands with a bipartisan Water Policy Council.

“That is exactly what the water policy council was established for, to address these areas that are currently unregulated and unmanaged, to provide some water security in the future there as well,” Hobbs explained.

The $40 million Water Resiliency Fund will support projects for water conservation and water recycling across the state. But conservation requires compliance which means, at some point, local citizens will have to agree.

“You don’t want the state coming in from different areas from a different part of the state to apply to your area because that may not apply,” Kai said.

Republican state Representative Gail Griffin from southeast Arizona is on the bipartisan water policy council. She did not speak on the matter Thursday, but sent a press release announcing $360 million in conservation projects across the state, and which also said that local conservation districts should have authority in conservation efforts.

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