The Arizona legislature has passed a historic water infrastructure plan to invest $1 billion in projects designed to bring additional water to the state. Gov. Doug Ducey signed the bill into law, stating the new funding is critical to ensure the state can acquire new water sources and properly invest in greener emerging water technologies related to conservation, efficiency, and reuse. The new infrastructure plan is critical in a state where agriculture contributes nearly $24 billion to the state economy.
“This legislation is crucial for our continued growth and prosperity. It will ensure Arizona remains a land of opportunity for families and for businesses large and small,” Ducey said.
The $1 billion will be used over the next three years to ensure the best technologies are in place for people and businesses that rely on the state’s limited water resources.
For farmers, this means new approaches such as drip irrigation, soil sensors, laser light, and hand-moveable sprinkler systems. These efforts can use up to 50% less water than flood irrigation. The funding will also invest in processes such as desalination, augmentation, and research into potential new long-term water sources and conservation methods.
“As Arizona’s population grows, the competition for water is fierce,” said Rusty Bowers, Arizona house speaker. “An enhanced water-securing body is just what Arizonans need. With this forward-thinking water plan, we’re adding new tools and resources to our toolbox to support our state’s explosive growth.”
The plan results from hard work from the Arizona Farm Bureau and other natural resources groups pushing for water use changes. With 40 million-plus people relying on the Colorado River for water, funding that focuses on sustainable practices is essential to ensure the people, businesses, and agriculture in the Grand Canyon State have adequate long-term water supplies.
“More than most, Arizona’s farmers and ranchers know the value of water. This is a truly historic investment it represents in Arizona’s water future,” said Stefanie Smallhouse, president of the Arizona Farm Bureau. “This forward-thinking legislation will be counted among Arizona’s other great successes in water management… .”
Though only 20% of the U.S.’s agricultural lands are located in Arizona, more than 60% of the total value of all American agricultural products are grown there, underscoring the need for a secure water supply for the industry and workers who call the state home.
The legislation will also help protect and grow the 138,000 agriculture-based jobs in Arizona. With many agriculture workers reaching retirement age, the legislation will also be vital in creating additional green jobs that attract a new workforce to the state.
“We’ve been wise in our water conservation, efficiency, and reuse projects, but now we need to go a step further,” said Karen Fann, Arizona state senate president. “Arizona’s economy is booming, and in order to sustain that growth, we need to look ahead. This water package does just that.”