Guest Opinion//David Beckham
Arizona Capitol Times
With November marking the first anniversary of the major overhaul of the Water Infrastructure Authority of Arizona (WIFA) – the body now charged with securing new water supplies and conserving water for Arizona – it’s a good time to reflect on the challenges we’ve faced, the progress we’ve made, and WIFA’s future.This time last year, the WIFA Board was newly seated and just beginning its role to implement SB1740. The board is composed of geographically diverse people with very different backgrounds, expertise and viewpoints. But all of us have one thing in common – a commitment to making sure that WIFA’s new programs meaningfully benefit our entire state.
We all agreed it was critical that WIFA work transparently, intentionally and thoroughly to create a foundation for accelerated progress. We built the staff needed for this new endeavor; crafted vision and mission statements to provide a guiding light for our expanded role; created the legally required rules, policies, and procedures for each of our new funds; and crafted, debated, and adopted a 5-year Strategic Plan for the five WIFA funds.
This work and preparation yielded real results. We launched our Water Conservation Grant program, and to date have approved $84 million in funding for a variety of project types across all areas of our state with a projected water savings of 1.8 million acre-feet. We also continued funding necessary water projects from our traditional funds, providing more than $332 million in low-cost financing, with $100 million going to disadvantaged communities and $50 million in forgivable principal.