Showdown over water bill averted, clearing way for Arizona to finish Colorado River deal

The calcium markings on the rock formations in Lake Mead, a Colorado River reservoir, show the impact of a 18-year drought on water levels. If the level drops below 1,025 feet, a state report says Arizona will lose access to 480,000 acre-feet of water from the Colorado River, or enough water for about a million family households for one year. /Photo by Alexis Kuhbander/Cronkite News

 

By Ian James | AZCentral

Proposed water legislation that might have upended Arizona’s Colorado River drought plan was set aside by a leading Republican lawmaker following a day of tense debate.

The dispute over the bill pitted House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who introduced the measure on behalf of a group of farmers and ranchers, against the Gila River Indian Community, whose leader threatened to pull out of the drought deal if the bill went forward.

Bowers’ decision to yank the bill from consideration on Tuesday appears to clear the path for Arizona to take a series of steps to finish its piece of the Drought Contingency Plan, which involves taking less water out of Lake Mead to prevent the reservoir from falling to critically low levels.

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