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The time to secure Arizona’s water future is now

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I am so grateful to the people of Arizona for allowing me the opportunity to continue serving as governor of our great state. I am humbled by your confidence and ready to continue working for you. And there’s a lot of important work to do.

As I traveled the state during this campaign – from Mohave County to Cochise County, and everywhere in between – one of the most frequent topics of discussion mentioned by constituents was the important issue of securing our state’s water future.  It is clear that Arizonans understand we must make important decisions regarding the management of our scarce water resources. In the face of ongoing drought on the Colorado River, the time to reach responsible and nonpartisan solutions is now.

The solution proposed by Arizona, California, Nevada and the federal government is the Drought Contingency Plan (DCP). This plan will help protect Lake Mead from declining to critically low levels that would cause potentially catastrophic reductions to Arizona’s Colorado River water supplies.

DCP lessens the likelihood of such reductions by imposing prudent reductions earlier and incentivizing water users to leave water in Lake Mead. Mexico is also stepping up with a parallel plan.

Implementing DCP in Arizona will require compromise from every stakeholder. This means setting aside narrow special interests and working for the good of the entire state.

My administration, the Legislature, and stakeholders have been working hard to reach an agreement on how to respond to the impacts of those reductions.

Although those efforts have been productive, some recent proposals are so short-sighted and unsustainable that it requires me to remind all participants why we began this process in the first place.

The foundational purpose of a multi-state drought contingency plan is to transition to a drier future. That transition may warrant a modest amount of mitigation for the increased reductions that would be imposed under DCP. However, in recent stakeholder meetings, demands for water and money to mitigate reductions are growing to insurmountable proportions – more than 1 million acre-feet of water and over $200 million through 2026 – creating an unsustainable precedent for mitigating water reductions in the future.

That is not sound long-term planning, and the people of Arizona expect more from us.

To secure Arizona’s water future, we must prioritize conservation, augmentation and innovation. The plan to implement DCP must adhere to some key principles.

First, we need to reaffirm Arizona’s goal of conserving water to raise and protect Lake Mead elevations. Arizona water users have invested considerable resources in conserving more than 350 trillion gallons of Colorado River water since 2014, raising Lake Mead elevations over 13 feet. Any plan to implement DCP in Arizona must build on those efforts.

Second, we must recognize that drought may be the new normal and that DCP is only an interim measure; our State must preserve long-term resources to address anticipated water supply challenges well into the future.

Third, our actions now should not establish expectations that reductions in Colorado River supply will be mitigated forever.

Finally, we take the broad view. We recognize the need to address impacts on certain water use sectors, but individual interests must be appropriately balanced against the interests of the State as a whole.

It’s time to get to this done and make DCP a priority by working together to find sustainable, long-term solutions to address the challenges we face on the Colorado River. And Arizonans should rest assured — DCP will need to be part of a traditional legislative process, and I will not sign a bill that does not adhere to these important principles, or any bill that does not adequately help to secure our state’s water future.

Arizona has a long history of arriving at such solutions with future generations in mind. We have a rich, legacy of coming together where our water resources are concerned. Arizonans expect us to follow in this tradition — and they expect us to act now.

Gov. Doug Ducey was re-elected to his second term in office on Nov. 6, 2018.

3 comments

  1. The DCP is a step in the right direction. However it worries me that Az Agriculture is expected to take the first hit. I am dismayed that there is no mention from cities, in particular Phoenix, about their part to play.
    I have dealt with water rationing on the island of Puerto Rico which was pretty odd for this desert rat to even be thinking about drought on an island. I am not saying we are that that point but surely Phoenix could cut back on irrigating their landscapes and golf courses to help sustain food and fiber production! The program “Beat the Peak” in Tucson was quite successful.
    We all need to work together!

  2. I don’t understand why new corporate construction has grass and water features. Why aren’t they being mandated already to use desert landscaping?

  3. Hey genius,

    Climate change is happening.

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(Photo by Ellen O'Brien)

Ducey, Babbitt lead the way on water conservation

I applaud Governor Ducey’s and former Governor Babbitt’s public statements of support for Arizona’s adoption of the drought contingency plans (DCP), expressed last week. Arizona’s water future depends on careful conservation, management, and collaboration to ensure that all of our communities are able to plan well into the future. This leadership is a valuable and essential part of how we get to a more sustainable future for the Colorado River basin.