FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 23, 2024
PHOENIX – Earlier today, the Arizona Department of Water Resources initiated steps to potentially declare the Gila Bend Groundwater Basin southwest of the Valley – which has been in significant decline -- an Active Management Area to mitigate the impacts of excessive, unsustainable groundwater pumping. Senator Priya Sundareshan and Representative Christopher Mathis, who are the ranking Democrats on the Senate and House Natural Resources, Energy and Water committees, commended Governor Katie Hobbs and her administration for taking these critical first steps to protect rural groundwater supplies for future generations.
ADWR will hold an informal public meeting to initiate procedures to designate the Gila Bend Groundwater Basin as an AMA from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday Jan. 30 (in-person and virtually). Details here.
"I commend Governor Hobbs for following through on her promise to take action in the face of continued refusal by our Republican colleagues to consider any meaningful solutions to address the lack of protections for rural groundwater in most of the state," Mathis said. "This should be a wake-up call for the Legislature to finally pass a bill that gives localities the tools they need to manage their groundwater supplies for all who rely on them.”
“Protecting Arizona’s groundwater must be larger than partisan politics," Sundareshan added. "I applaud this action taken by ADWR but must stress that we need to move faster and more comprehensively to protect the long-term health of our rural aquifers and ensure our children and grandchildren have water for the next 100 years. The current reality in Arizona is that if we fail to update the Groundwater Management Act soon, the long-term health of our water basins may never recover. The days of working in silos on water policy are over; it’s time to have honest and transparent negotiations amongst all interested stakeholders.”
ADWR outlined the groundwater conditions in the Gila Bend basin, and others, at an August meeting of the Governor's Water Policy Council Rural Groundwater Committee.