Arizona Water Bills Don’t Fix Urgent Needs

San Pedro River, Arizona | Photo: BLM

The ongoing drought across the Southwest and lower water levels in Lake Mead on the Colorado River has raised concerns about Arizona’s water future. Across the basin, the Colorado River and its tributaries generate more than $1.4 trillion in economic activity, support more than 16 million jobs and $871 billion in wages, and provide habitat for more than 60% of Arizona’s wildlife. As Lake Mead continues to decline due to overuse in the Lower Basin, and with a lean snowpack in Colorado, planning for drought is becoming more and more urgent by the day. This situation is why American Rivers named the Lower Colorado as the Most Endangered River in America in the spring of 2017.

Legislation was recently proposed in the Arizona House and Senate that represents an attack on Arizona’s legacy of enacting creative, forward-thinking strategies to protect these resources. Omnibus Senate Bill 1507 and its companion House Bill 2512, do nothing to address one fundamental problem - we continue to withdraw more water than is put back into the Colorado River. The longer we wait to tackle this situation, known as the “structural deficit,” the more difficult it is to advocate for the health and sustainability of the Colorado River in Arizona.

In addition, two other bills included in these omnibus packages, SB1515 and HB2553, undermine Arizona’s landmark Groundwater Management Act by making it easier to avoid adequate water supply requirements. The river most immediately threatened by these bills is the San Pedro, a resource of particular importance to Southeastern Arizona’s wildlife and recreation.

We need water solutions that guarantee reliable water supplies for all of Arizona’s water users – including our rivers, wildlife, and agricultural and recreation industries. Instead of offering these solutions, these bills offer a big step away from a sustainable water future. 

Thank you for reaching out to your local state legislator on these important issues.