KJZZ: Gov. Ducey to propose water policy changes

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

KJZZ reported that while drought conditions persist in Arizona, people in the water policy world are trying to keep the Colorado River, lifeline for the Southwest, at healthy levels.

“The one thing we know about the future is that we are likely to see more shortage and more frequent shortage than we’ve experienced in previous decades," said Sarah Porter, director of Kyl Center for Water Policy at ASU's Morrison Institute.

Porter and others are waiting for Arizona to propose changes to water policy — changes meant to combat shortage.

Any plan from Gov. Doug Ducey is likely to address what’s called “excess water,” put simply, it is the Colorado River water that a user decides not to use.

The state of Arizona is considering significant changes to the current system.

Porter is optimistic an agreement can get done.

“Agreements are fairly easy to amend and change. And they give us flexibility. Legislation is harder to change,” she said.

Legislated or negotiated, Arizona’s internal debates need to get settled before the state can sign a Drought Contingency Plan with California, Nevada and the federal Bureau of Reclamation. They all share Lake Mead, and all want to avoid drastic cuts to water supplies.

Ducey held work groups last year, where various water stakeholders discussed ideas, including a move to declare the State of Arizona the legal entity that decides what excess water stays on Lake Mead when a user wants to leave it there voluntarily.

READ: Arizona Gov. Ducey Water Proposals Likely To Address Excess Water