Lawmakers support revamping water agency, possible Mexico desalination 

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By Nick Phillips |Arizona Capitol Times  

Lawmakers appear eager to deliver something that resembles Gov. Doug Ducey’s vision to spend $1 billion on water projects but they are rejecting his proposal for a new agency. 

Budget and water bills introduced this week indicate that legislators potentially are set to approve a desalination plant in Mexico, among other measures to address the critical natural resource.  

A plan contained in parallel bills introduced in the House and Senate on Tuesday would restructure the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority to make it an independent agency that administers a “water supply development revolving fund” for modest grants and loans within Arizona; and a larger “long-term water augmentation fund” to invest in major water projects. Senate Bill 1740 and House Bill 2873 also explicitly give WIFA the power to make water deals with entities “outside of this state, including the United States and other nations.” 

Budget bills introduced on Monday show plans to put $1 billion towards water initiatives over the next three years, in line with the goal Ducey announced in the January State of the State. But the move to beef up WIFA confirms that Ducey’s proposed Arizona Water Authority – a new state agency to administer the billion-dollar funding package – isn’t in the works. 

Senate President Karen Fann, R-Prescott, said she anticipated approximately $200 million would go to the smaller development fund and about $800 million would go to the larger augmentation fund. She added that last-minute negotiations are still underway.

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