Can Hobbs fix state’s groundwater problem?

Joanna Allhands

Arizona Republic

There is plenty of important discussion happening in the Governor’s Water Policy Council. But perhaps more important is what’s not being talked about.

There are three major elephants in the room:

1. What can the governor do?

Katie Hobbs isn’t the first governor to take on state groundwater policy, which has developed a few holes in urban areas and is generally nonexistent in rural ones.

Previous blue-ribbon panels spent years talking without much to show for it.

What sets Hobbs’ effort apart is that in addition to potential legislation, she also wants recommendations that could be enacted by executive order or by a rulemaking process within the state water department.

That’s smart, because let’s face it: The chances are slim for this Legislature to make anything other than token changes with this governor.

Yet the bulk of the discussion so far has focused on ideas that key lawmakers have already pronounced DOA, including an effort to revive legislation creating Local Groundwater Stewardship Areas with stipulations that were previously DOA.

No one has spelled out what the governor or state water officials have the authority to change unilaterally, or by a formal rulemaking process.

Not that it’s all we focus on. But a quick overview could help spur more ideas that could be done right away — as opposed to those that might take a few more years of lobbying or a ballot initiative to push through.

2. What would farmers support?


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August 2023