Arizona water plan includes $30M for Pinal farmers to drill more wells

Lake Mead, which stores Colorado River water, has not seen such low levels in decades. /Runyo/KUNC


By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via PinalCentral

Arizona water officials and others have agreed to a $100 million plan — including $30 million in state tax revenues — designed to deal with the inevitability that the state will have less Colorado River water in 2020.

The drought contingency plan released Thursday, which still requires approval by lawmakers and others, would pay to have water previously stored underground pumped out to be used to meet at least some the needs of farmers and others who otherwise would find themselves going without. It also involves paying some cash to tribes and others to buy some of the water rights they have.

But what’s really involved, according to Tom Buschatzke, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, is finding ways to leave more water in Lake Mead.

None of that, he said, will prevent a Tier 1 shortage in 2020 which will be triggered as the level of the lake is expected to drop below 1,075 feet. In fact there are estimates that by mid-summer it actually will be at 1,056 feet.


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November 2018