Arizona Senate Plan to Address Water Concerns Would Scale Back Governor’s Proposed Arizona Water Authority

Concerns are growing in Arizona that a water shortage may be looming. Governor Doug Ducey proposed creating an Arizona Water Authority (AWA) earlier this year in his 2022 State of the State address, but now the Arizona Senate majority caucus is suggesting a simpler plan that would use the existing Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona (WIFA).

Ducey’s plan doesn’t have the votes to pass the legislature, a spokesperson for the Arizona Senate majority caucus told The Arizona Sun Times. The proposal was intended to find middle ground between Ducey’s plan and the objecting legislators. “The memo was intended to be a starting point to reflect the direction of the Senate Majority Caucus and outlines changes to Gov. Ducey’s proposal. It is not a wholesale replacement. It preserves elements of the proposal that are not in conflict. However, the Senate Majority remains steadfastly committed to preserving the significant taxpayer investment for water projects, not for bureaucracy. WIFA already exists and works very well, so there is no need to create a new entity.”

Ducey’s plan to augment water resources, which he forged in partnership with Arizona Senate President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) and Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa), would cost $1 billion and include the integration of new technologies such as desalination, start large scale water augmentation projects, and encourage reuse and efficiency with current supplies.

The Senate majority caucus explained its alternative plan in a May 16 memo to House leadership and the governor’s staff. WIFA was created in 1989 to provide loans to Arizona communities looking to improve their water and wastewater infrastructure, funding such projects. The Senators criticize Ducey’s AWA plan for creating an unnecessary new huge bureaucracy – the latest draft is 90 pages long. AWA would have eminent domain powers and the ability to assess fees, which could face strong opposition. A legislative committee to review projects would cost over $50 million.

Read the rest of the article at The Arizona Sun Times
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