Kari Lake, Arizona’s GOP nominee for governor, calls water supply ‘maybe the top issue’
PHOENIX – With Arizona facing a future with reduced access to Colorado River water, Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake said securing the state’s supply is “a top issue, maybe the top issue.”
“We need to have a comprehensive plan to address that problem,” Lake told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Tuesday morning, shortly before U.S. officials announced, as expected, how much less water Arizona would get from the Colorado River system next year.
Under the latest reductions, Arizona will lose slightly more water than it did this year, when 18% of its supply was cut. In 2023, it will lose an additional 3%, an aggregate 21% reduction from its initial allocation.
The reductions are based on a plan to help maintain reservoir levels signed in 2019 by Arizona, six other Western states that share Colorado River water, and Mexico.
“We’re going to be seeing big cuts to agriculture — that means cuts to our food supply chain — that we just can’t afford right now,” Lake said.
Lake said potential short-term solutions include conservation and leasing water from Native American tribes.
“Midterm, we need to build out some of the wells and canals for groundwater and, frankly, invest in more storage capacity on the Salt and Verde [rivers],” she said.
Lake didn’t rule out desalination as a long-term option, but she would rather focus on securing sustainable sources of fresh water from within the United States.
Outgoing Gov. Doug Ducey has proposed building a desalination plant in Mexico that can process sea water for human consumption, an ambitious project that could cost several billion dollars.
“We can look at piping water in from river basins around the country,” Lake said. “That is not a pie-in-the-sky idea, but we have to get on it, and we have to get on it now.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.