Hostile water legislation that would have created Regional Water Augmentation Authorities (RWAA) with broad powers was held in the Arizona House Ag & Water Committee late Tuesday evening. Western Growers led a coalition of farmers and businesses along with the City of Yuma, County Supervisors and ag industry representatives united in opposition to the bill.
While the coalition had the votes to kill the bill, Chairwoman Barton choose to hold the bill rather than forcing her committee members to vote against Speaker Andy Tobin, the sponsor of the bill. This bill is being promoted by several municipalities in central Arizona that are looking to augment their water supplies by transferring water from other areas of the state. Yuma’s strong rights to the Colorado River make it a prime target. However, this bill would affect agriculture across Arizona because of the broad fee authority granted under the bill. It is anticipated that water users would see significant increases in water costs should they become subject to a RWAA. Under the proposed bill, these RWAAs could be created without any oversight or approval from an elected body. They would essentially be self-appointed entities with authority to buy, purchase and transfer water rights, exercise eminent domain, and operate outside of the existing regulatory authority of the Department of Water Resources. While WG believes that Arizona should continue to work on viable solutions to the future water needs within the State of Arizona, water augmentation should be defined in a way that develops new sources of water rather than transferring water from one part of the state at the expense of another. WG will continue to monitor this issue to ensure that this legislation does not advance in its current form.
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