July 19, 2022
The extent of drought in the U.S. West is forcing many water systems to put significant dollars behind innovative water management measures. Now, that includes more than $1 billion in one of the country’s most arid regions.
“Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation … that will provide $1.2 billion over three years to boost long-term water supplies for the desert state and implement conservation efforts that will see more immediate effects,” AP News reported. “Climate change and a nearly 30-year drought forced the move, which comes as Arizona faces cutbacks in its Colorado River water supply and more loom.”
The idea of a major drought contingency plan in Arizona first surfaced at the beginning of the year, but it was not immediately clear whether it would gain enough support to become a reality. But the intensifying of source water scarcity, marked by the fact that nearly all of the Western United States is now in drought, seems to have pushed this plan over the finish line.
The law calls for the state’s Water Infrastructure Financial Authority to invest funds in a range of water scarcity solutions, including the construction of a canal and pipeline that would bring excess stormwater from Kansas to Arizona watersheds. It also appears that Arizona will be increasing its reliance on desalinated supplies.
“The governor is particularly excited about the idea of the state being involved in construction of a plant to desalinate water, likely from the Sea of Cortez, providing fresh water that can be used for not only domestic use but also for the agriculture industry which consumes 70% of what Arizona now uses,” according to KAWC.
As just one of countless regions now wrestling with increasing stress on their water supplies, the work Arizona does through this plan is likely to inform many other similar projects around the country and world.
“These challenges made it necessary for us to act,” Ducey said during the signing of the bill, per AP. “So today we are taking action to do what the men and women of Arizona hired us to do — position our state for success today, tomorrow and for generations to come.”
Those wrestling with similar challenges, and similar hopes for future water consumers, will be watching closely.
To read more about how water systems adapt to drought conditions, visit Water Online’s Water Scarcity Solutions Center.