Arizona Legislature passes historic Colorado River drought plan hours before deadline

Arizona receives 40% of Colorado River water./CAP photo

 

By Dustin Gardiner, Andrew Nicla and Ian James | The Arizona Republic

Arizona lawmakers approved a Colorado River drought deal Thursday afternoon, about sevenhours before a midnight deadline set by the federal government.

But their hours of rushed work could be overshadowed, as a California irrigation district’s demands threaten to delay efforts to finish the Drought Contingency Plan, which aims to protect levels in Lake Mead.

Nevertheless, Arizona officials were eager to meet the midnight deadline set by federal Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman.

In a major act of bipartisanship, lawmakers in the Arizona House and Senate voted almost unanimously to approve a plan aimed at stopping reservoirs from plunging to critical levels.

Gov. Doug Ducey and leaders across the state urged swift action on the plan given a 19-year drought that could lead to drastic water cuts for Western states.

The governor was expected to sign the deal shortly after its passage Thursday evening.

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