Lawmakers ponder water legislation for ‘22

By Nathan Brown | Arizona Capitol Times 

Arizona lawmakers next year will be wrestling with what to do in the shadow of a worsening shortage in one of this state’s most vital water supplies. 

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced a Tier 1 water shortage due to low levels in Lake Mead, which will reduce water deliveries to farmers in central Arizona who depend on the Colorado River as well as necessitating cuts in Nevada and Mexico. 

Ted Cooke, the general manager of the Central Arizona Project, said November 19 that the users of Lake Mead will still need to conserve 500,000 acre-feet of water a year over the next five years to get the lake’s levels back up. 

“That’s not going to be an easy task,” Cooke said. 

Lawmakers approved $200 million in funding this year to shore up Arizona’s water supply, the bulk of which went into a drought mitigation fund to help with water supply and conservation projects. 

House Speaker Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, said the money is meant for bringing water to Arizona from outside sources. 

Bowers said he expects the Legislature to increase spending on water projects next year. Lawmakers may also reexamine some aspects of rural water management with new legislation, although one of the key proposals that emerged from an interim committee studying water issues is one that has stalled when it was introduced in the past. 

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