Arizona made a major investment in water. Here’s how to maximize it

Salt River Project’s network of dams, reservoirs and canals were built with extensive collaboration between federal, state and private entities

Opinion: Arizona has set aside millions for water conservation and augmentation projects. But it also needs private partners to deliver this needed infrastructure.

By Austill Stuart and Leonard Gilroy, opinion contributors Arizona Republic 

Arizona has long enjoyed extensive economic and population growth, but this year’s federal designation of a Tier 1 shortage restricting the state’s share of Colorado River water and restricting water supply to Central Arizona agricultural users presents a stark reminder of the need for major ongoing investments in public water infrastructure to sustain a strong economic future. 

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With the state’s elected leaders prudently aside more than $500 million for water augmentation and conservation projects and overhauling the state agency responsible for financing water infrastructure in the closing days of the legislative session, Arizona’s robust tradition of using public-private partnerships (P3s) to deliver critical water investments appears set to enter a transformative new phase. 

The state’s economy today would not exist without the legacy of major waterworks like the Central Arizona Project or Salt River Project’s network of dams, reservoirs and canals – projects built with extensive collaboration between federal, state and private entities. Cities like Phoenix have also used P3s to deliver major new water and wastewater infrastructure.  

Tax, ratepayers alone can’t build what’s needed

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