Arizona has water available, but House Speaker Bowers says hunt is on for more
PHOENIX – Procuring water in western states is an ongoing challenge for a region gasping through a protracted drought, but an Arizona legislator says the state will do everything in its power to best utilize the resource.
“The main focus is to get more water to come into Arizona, whether that be from the east with floodwaters off the Midwest or ocean sources and [desalinization] efforts – all those things and more. We are looking, looking, looking,” Arizona state House Speaker Rusty Bowers told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Thursday.
Bowers said California is allocated 4.4 million acre feet of the Colorado River, Arizona about 2.8 million and Nevada around 300,000, but wants more.
“The competition [for water] is fierce,” he said.
“We are looking at redoing the way the river is allocated and those discussions have been entered into and we want to be wise in how we handle that.”
The Republican lawmaker said Arizona has managed to balance a dwindling water supply and population growth, but it’s challenging.
“There is water available. We’ve been wise in preparing for this day [and] this day is here,” Bowers said, adding the state needed to focus even more on efficiency, conservation and reuse of existing water resources.
He believes the creation of the Arizona Water Authority would help the state in its quest to replenish its water supply.
Gov. Doug Ducey and Senate President Karen Fann, both Republicans, are also pushing for the formation of the agency.
“It’s not a regulatory body; it’s a water-securing body,” Bowers said.
The water authority would be funded with an initial $1 billion investment and have the authority to borrow money and issue bonds to fund larger projects. Some of the money will be set aside for cities and towns and even private water companies for smaller local projects.
“That’s why we need the money, so we can broker, we can do public-private partnerships with large groups that want to help us.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.