Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signs bill investing more than $1B in water supply

Jul 6, 2022, 1:52 PM

(KTAR News Photo)...

(KTAR News Photo)

(KTAR News Photo)

PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill Wednesday that allocates $1.2 billion over three years for projects to boost and secure the state’s water supply.

The investment will make Arizona “the big boy of the Lower Basin states in terms of water,” Ducey told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Wednesday morning, shortly before signing the bipartisan bill during a ceremony in the state Capitol rotunda.

“Right now, we’re the little brother,” he said. “We’re going to have water that we can sell to other states to supplement and bring our costs down. So, I believe it will remain affordable and accessible.”

The legislation, which Ducey proposed during his final State of the State address in January, gives the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority control over a new $1 billion appropriation and expands the state agency’s responsibilities.

Climate change and a nearly 30-year drought prompted the move, which comes as Arizona faces cutbacks in its Colorado River water supply and more loom. The Central Arizona Project canal system is already delivering less water from the river to metro Phoenix, Pinal County and Tucson, and federal officials are warning of even steeper cuts soon.

“We want to take care of water for Arizona for the next 100 years,” Ducey said. “There’s flexibility around the fund and, of course, with resources we can bring in more water to the state. We can also add conservation.”

Ducey said the state is working with Israeli engineers on “the largest desalination project in in history.”

“What this fund is going to allow us to do is to complete this contractually between now and the end of the term, so there’s more to follow, but this puts us in the driver’s seat to finish the deal,” he said.

Arizona has been looking into building a desalination plant in Mexico that can process sea water for human consumption, an ambitious project that could cost several billion dollars.

Democrats got Ducey and the Republican Legislative majority to augment the bill with $200 million for conservation, money that can be used right away for both agricultural efficiency and to cut water use in urban areas.

“Our state is confronted with the realities of climate change, an over-allocated Colorado River and decreasing groundwater,” Senate Minority Leader Rebecca Rios said at the signing ceremony.

“This bill ultimately creates a financial structure to assist with the diverse needs of both urban and rural Arizona.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signs bill investing more than $1B in water supply