ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona Senate passes plan to manage rural groundwater, but final success is uncertain

Mar 1, 2024, 3:00 PM | Updated: 3:21 pm

Arizona will not approve new housing construction on the fast-growing edges of metro Phoenix that r...

A plan to manage rural groundwater passed the Arizona Senate amid concerns about the availability of sufficient water for future generations. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

PHOENIX (AP) — A plan to manage rural groundwater passed Arizona’s Republican-controlled Senate on Thursday amid growing concerns about the availability of sufficient water for future generations in the arid Southwestern state.

The legislation now heads to the House, which the GOP also controls. Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs has expressed opposition to the bill, complaining that an earlier version that she backed offered better ways to ensure water conservation but failed to get a hearing in the Legislature.

“This legislation leaves rural Arizonans without a real solution for how their groundwater is managed,” Hobbs’ spokesperson Christian Slater said Thursday. “Governor Hobbs is dedicated to continued work with stakeholders and legislators, including Senator Kerr, to find a better way forward that truly gives rural Arizonans a say in how their groundwater is managed and provides a sustainable and secure water future for generations to come.”

The proposed legislation would mark a significant update to Arizona’s 1980 Groundwater Management Act overseeing groundwater use. That law transferred oversight for Arizona water laws from the State Land Department to a new Department of Water Resources and created four “active management areas” in the most populated parts of Arizona, such as Phoenix.

While it left groundwater in rural areas largely unregulated, the current proposal led by Senate Majority Whip Sine Kerr would allow people to initiate, form, and manage additional groundwater basins to keep an eye on rural groundwater pumping and cap new pumping in the case of an accelerated drop in water levels. The additional management basins could be created through a local petition or action by the county’s Board of Supervisors.

Residents in some rural parts of Arizona, including La Paz County on the border with California, have worried that international farms that grow thirsty crops like alfalfa are rapidly draining local groundwater supplies. But some farming interests have opposed any regulation of rural groundwater, and Kerr’s bill would make conservation efforts voluntary.

“Our farmers and ranchers, who’ve cultivated Arizona land for decades, are some of the best stewards of water, as their livelihoods rely upon conservation,” said Kerr, a Republican. “Their wisdom was critical in creating this policy.”

“Because of a history of forward-thinking collaboration on water management demonstrated in Arizona, we use less water today than we did four decades ago,” Kerr added. “I’m confident this tool will allow our state to continue on this trajectory.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

File photo of Border Patrol agent in Arizona...

Damon Allred

Former U.S. border patrol agent sentenced to 18 years in prison for bribery and drug smuggling

A Buckeye man who served as a United States border patrol agent was sentenced to 18 years in prison and five years of supervised release.

3 hours ago

Phoenix Rescue Mission...

KTAR.com

Phoenix Rescue Mission readies annual heat relief campaign

With the summer heat nearing, Phoenix Rescue Mission is launching its annual heat relief campaign to assist unhoused and at-risk individuals.

5 hours ago

(AP Photo)...

KTAR.com

Northbound Loop 101 on-ramp at Shea Boulevard to close for 2 months

The northbound Loop 101 on-ramp at Shea Boulevard in Scottsdale is scheduled to be closed for approximately 60 days, starting Monday.

7 hours ago

Hildale, Utah, is pictured sitting at the base of Red Rock Cliff mountains, with its sister city, C...

Associated Press

Guilty plea by leader of polygamous sect near the Arizona-Utah border is at risk of being thrown out

A guilty plea by the leader of an offshoot polygamous sect near the Arizona-Utah border is at risk of being thrown out.

9 hours ago

Picture of the Mitsubishi Montero that Phoenix police suspect hit an 11-year-old girl in a crosswal...

Damon Allred

Hit-and-run suspect sought in Phoenix after injuring child walking in crosswalk

Officers are searching for a hit-and-run suspect who hit an 11-year-old girl walking in a school crosswalk on Friday, Phoenix PD said.

12 hours ago

(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...

KTAR.com

2 men die, another critically injured in south Phoenix shooting

Detectives are investigating a shooting that left two dead and another seriously injured in south Phoenix, police said.

14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Arizona Senate passes plan to manage rural groundwater, but final success is uncertain