Ducey, lawmakers favor spending on water projects

The Yuma Desalting Plant was constructed under authority of the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act of 1974 to treat saline agricultural return flows from the Wellton-Mohawk Irrigation and Drainage District. Construction of the plant was completed in 1992 and it has operated on two occasions since then. Photo courtesy U.S. Bureau Reclamation.

By:Nick Phillips, Nathan Brown, Camryn Sanchez  | Arizona Republic

Gov. Doug Ducey wants lawmakers to turn on the money spigot this year to do something about Arizona’s water woes.

In his State of the State Address on January 10, the governor touted the Legislature’s decision last year to invest $200 million in measures to shore up Arizona’s water supply, and said he, House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Senate President Karen Fann have come up with a plan to spend an additional $1 billion on water over the next three years.

Ducey called this a “historic investment” that will “secure Arizona’s water future for the next 100 years.”

The most eye-catching part of the investment Ducey previewed would be an international infrastructure project featuring innovative technology.

“Now, with resources available in our budget, a relationship with Mexico that we’ve built and strengthened over the last several years, and the need clear – what better place to invest more?” Ducey said. “Instead of just talking about desalination – the technology that made Israel the world’s water superpower – how about we pave the way to make it actually happen?”

The Arizona Department of Water Resources is already part of a binational U.S.-Mexico working group that has been studying building a desalination plant on the Sea of Cortez.

Ducey’s office said in a news release that his water plans would be further detailed in his budget proposal and would include building on last year’s spending; laying the groundwork for new large-scale water augmentation projects; encouraging reuse and efficiency; and “leading to the further integration of latest technologies, including desalination, into Arizona’s water portfolio.”

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