PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey on Wednesday signed historic legislation that makes an unprecedented $1 billion investment to secure Arizona’s water future, fulfilling a promise outlined during his State of the State address in January.
“Today, we are taking a bold step 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,” said Governor Ducey. “This legislation is crucial for our continued growth and prosperity. It will ensure Arizona remains a land of opportunity for families and for businesses large and small. As we’ve done over the past seven and a half years, we came together, brought everyone to the table and delivered for the people of this great state. And by doing so, we are leaving Arizona better and stronger than we found it. I want to thank Senator Sine Kerr and Representative Gail Griffin for sponsoring this legislation and consistently leading on Arizona’s most pressing issues. I also want to thank: Senate President Karen Fann, House Speaker Rusty Bowers, and Leaders Rebecca Rios and Reginald Bolding. It is because of all your efforts that this passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.”
The bold plan to secure Arizona’s water future invests $1 billion over three years to fund projects that will bring additional water to the state. The projects will help ensure that Arizona families, businesses and agriculture continue to have adequate long-term water supplies.
The governor forged the plan in partnership with Arizona Senate President Karen Fann and House Speaker Rusty Bowers, taking an “all of the above” approach to address water supply for the next 100 years.
“As Arizona’s population grows, the competition for water is fierce,” said Speaker Bowers. “An enhanced water-securing body is just what Arizonans need. With this forward-thinking water plan, we’re adding new tools and resources to our toolbox to support our state’s explosive growth. Thank you to Governor Ducey for his steadfast partnership in delivering for all Arizonans now and in the future.”
The legislation appropriates more than $1 billion to the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority (WIFA) and expands it with new responsibilities to provide loans and grants to water providers and entities for the purposes of importing water into Arizona, conservation, efficiency and reuse, and new technologies.
“We’ve been wise in our water conservation, efficiency and reuse projects, but now we need to go a step further,” said President Fann. “Arizona’s economy is booming and in order to sustain that growth, we need to look ahead. This water package does just that. My thanks to Governor Ducey and Sen. Kerr for their important work and continued support on this vital issue.”
WIFA will continue to finance the design and construction of water and wastewater infrastructure projects using federal and state funds. Now with the expansion, WIFA will pursue augmentation and conservation projects with a new board structure appointed jointly by the Arizona Legislature and Governor Ducey.
“Challenges bring opportunity,” said Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke. “This expansion of WIFA creates an opportunity for the state to secure its water future. I want to thank Governor Ducey, the Arizona Legislature and stakeholders for coming together to collaboratively come up with this important legislation.”
Senate Bill 1740 gives the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority (WIFA) additional authority and tools that will empower the state to be proactive in bringing in new water sources.
This bill will allow our state to make significant investments in water conservation and innovative technologies such as desalination, as well as identify and develop new innovative long-term water sources. WIFA will administer additional funds for water augmentation, supply development, conservation projects and more.
Through the funds, WIFA will have the ability to acquire, store and sell new imported water as well as engage in private-public partnerships to help enable these projects.
“Today we celebrate our action to address the water issues our great state faces,” said Sen. Sine Kerr. “All Arizonans now and in the future will benefit from this legislation. Thanks to Governor Ducey’s leadership and bipartisan legislative support, we are setting in motion a strong pathway toward securing future water sources.”
“This critical legislation just makes sense. It’s fair and forward-looking,” said Rep. Gail Griffin. “I’m glad we’ve come together to find a solution for our water future. Thank you to Governor Ducey, Speaker Bowers and President Fann for this collaborative effort.”
“Today is a significant day. Arizona will now build upon our strengths in water conservation and protect our future,” said Sen. Rebecca Rios. “This was a bipartisan effort and I am grateful for the lawmakers who worked together to make it happen.”
“Securing our state’s water future takes an all-hands-on-deck approach,” said Rep. Reginald Bolding. “With conservation, augmentation and reuse we can increase Arizona’s water supplies and help ensure Arizona meets our impressive growth. Thank you to Governor Ducey, President Fann, Speaker Bowers and Leader Rios for their collaborative leadership.”
Arizona’s agriculture industry will be supported by the augmentation of water supplies.
“More than most, Arizona’s farmers and ranchers know the value of water. Today, we are celebrating the passage of S.B. 1740 and the truly historic investment it represents in Arizona’s water future,” said Stefanie Smallhouse, Arizona Farm Bureau President. “This forward-thinking legislation will be counted among Arizona’s other great successes in water management, and the Arizona Farm Bureau is thankful to the Governor, leadership and staff in the House and Senate, and all those who came together to make this bipartisan bill a reality.”
Ted Cooke, General Manager of the Central Arizona Project said this year had been challenging for Arizona’s water security. He noted, “The longest dry period on the Colorado River in more than 1,200 years gave our state a troubling warning. Fortunately, the Governor and Legislature took swift action to invest in and diversify our state’s water resources. Central Arizona Project commends the Governor and the Legislature for providing over $1 billion to help meet existing and future water needs. The new funds will develop or facilitate water conservation, reuse and augmentation. Coupled with the progress in implementing potable reuse, creating a statewide on-farm irrigation efficiency pilot program, as well as ensuring that CAWCD continues to have needed resources, this session made impressive progress In water resource development which will have a lasting impact.”
“Arizona has long been at the forefront of wise water management, as evidenced by decades of informed stewardship and major investments like the Central Arizona Project and Salt River Project,” said Dave Roberts, Associate General Manager at the Salt River Project. “The passage of this law to promote water investment ushers Arizona into the next era of water infrastructure planning.”
“With the worsening conditions on the Colorado River, AMWUA applauds the actions of the Governor and Legislature to invest in Arizona’s water,” said Warren Tenney, Executive Director of the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association. “This is an important starting point to ensure continual planning and financing of water augmentation, reuse, and conservation. Now, we must work together to maximize this historic investment in the wisest ways possible to benefit Arizona now and in the future.”
The water package will have a great impact on scalable business and development in Arizona.
Cheryl Lombard, President and CEO of Valley Partnership said, “It was an honor to join Governor Doug Ducey, members of the Arizona Legislature, and community leaders for the signing of the historic $1 billion investment to secure our state’s water future. We look forward to continuing to work with local, state, federal and community partners on innovative ways to preserve and maintain our water supply.”