By Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror
House Speaker Rusty Bowers plans to continue to move forward with water legislation despite threats by the Gila River Indian Community to leave a seven-state drought plan if that legislation because of it
If the Gila River Indian Community holds true to its statement and refuses to sign any agreements it could ultimately derail the deal as the federal government’s March deadline approaches.
The legislation, House Bill 2476, would eliminate provisions that allows the tribe to claim Gila River water that has not been used for five years.
The Gila River Indian Community is opposed to the bill and announced on Thursday that, because of HB1476, it won’t sign Arizona’s Drought Contingency Plan.
“Unless the Arizona legislature rejects the bad water policy reflected in HB 2476, the Community will not sign any agreements necessary for the AZ DCP Implementation plan,” Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis of the Gila River Indian Community said on Twitter.
The Gila River Indian Community plays a pivotal role in the DCP because it’s legally entitled to about a fourth of the water that passes through the Central Arizona Project, and the tribe has committed to kicking back some of that water to make the deal work. Now that agreement would be in jeopardy.
Matt Specht, a spokesman for the speaker, said Bowers, R-Mesa, still plans for his bill to be heard on Tuesday in the House Natural Resources, Energy and Water Committee.
“At this point he doesn’t have a comment beyond that. Obviously he’ll address some of those issues when the committee considers the bill on Tuesday,”