PHOENIX, AZ (STL.News) Governor Doug Ducey announced the investment of $30 million to help keep the Lake Mead reservoir from descending to critical levels, a major step forward in the long-running effort to protect the Colorado River system, a vital source of water for Arizona’s communities, tribes and agriculture.
“In Arizona, we’re committed to preserving a culture of conservation and protecting our water resources,” said Governor Ducey. “Today’s investments support that commitment. We will continue to work with community partners, tribal neighbors, other states and federal agencies to take innovative measures to secure Arizona’s water future now, and for years to come.”
The State of Arizona, through the Department of Water Resources, will use these funds to work with communities with Colorado River water rights to keep more water in Lake Mead. Similar actions were taken in the 2019 Drought Contingency Plan (DCP).
Before the passage of the landmark, system-wide DCP, Arizona has acted for many years to stem the decline in Lake Mead surface levels, including voluntarily leaving thousands of acre-feet of its annual allocation in the reservoir.
The volume of water in Lake Mead has been declining since the Lake was last full in 2000, a result of system-wide over-allocation and drought-induced reductions in the annual average flow of the River.
Without the DCP, Lake Mead would be at critical levels today, potentially jeopardizing power production at Hoover Dam. Now, more needs to be done, and Arizona is taking up a frontline position in taking action.
“In anticipation of this announcement, I testified before the Senate and House in early October to explain Arizona’s leadership on conservation and our commitment to protecting Colorado River water elevations,” said Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke. “Governor Ducey’s investment is the result of multiple stakeholders coming together to identify effective and innovative solutions — and I look forward to continuing to work together to protect water in Arizona.”
The announcement is being welcomed by stakeholders across Arizona.
“The State is facing an unprecedented challenge with severe water shortages on the Colorado River. These challenges require leadership and I am pleased to be working with Governor Ducey again to tackle this problem head on,” said Governor Stephen Roe Lewis of the Gila River Indian Community. “Governor Ducey’s allocation of funding from the State is the kind of decisive leadership we need at this critical time.”
“Water is a vital resource in Arizona,” said Senate President Karen Fann. “And, we must do all that we can to protect and preserve resources for future generations. This funding will continue to further maintain Arizona’s history of conservation. I appreciate and commend Governor Ducey’s leadership and commitment over the years to make water conservation a top priority.”
“Over the past 50 years, Arizona has been a leader in developing solutions to our ongoing water issues, and this is another example,” said House Speaker Rusty Bowers. “I appreciate Governor Ducey’s engagement on this critical issue and look forward to continuing to work with him to manage and protect our state’s precious water resources and to meet our current and future water needs.”
“We have looked to Governor Ducey often for leadership regarding water issues particularly with those of the Colorado River,” said Wade Noble, water expert and attorney in Yuma. “He understands what we face with the drought. His announcement today makes the statement we need that Arizona is committed to combating drought and shortage.”
“CAP is committed to the collaborative development of additional water-saving actions to protect the Colorado River and we appreciate the swiftness and magnitude of Governor Ducey’s extraordinary support of this effort,” said Ted Cooke, General Manager, Central Arizona Project.