Gila River Indian Community moves ahead with Colorado River drought plan after clash with lawmaker

By Ian James | Arizona Republic

Arizona’s efforts to finish a Colorado River drought plan are moving forward after leaders of the Gila River Indian Community announced that they will proceed with their piece of the deal.

The community’s leader, Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis, had threatened to pull out of the agreement if the Legislature didn’t drop a bill that he said would undermine the community’s water rights under a hard-fought settlement.

The dispute had pitted Lewis against House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who introduced the legislation on behalf of a group of farmers and ranchers. But on Tuesday, after a debate in a House committee, Bowers said he was pulling the bill.

On Friday, leaders of the Gila River Indian Community released a statement saying they had received “sufficient assurances” that the bill is dead and will not be reintroduced. They said they decided to move forward with plan after meetings with Republican House Speaker Pro Tem T.J. Shope, Democratic House Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez and Sen. Lisa Otondo.

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