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  • Writer's pictureArizona Senate Republicans

Joint Legislative Committee on Water Security Finds SB 1221Would Have "Stopped the Bleeding" in Rural Groundwater Basins

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                    

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

 



Joint Legislative Committee on Water Security Finds SB 1221

Would Have "Stopped the Bleeding" in Rural Groundwater Basins

 

PHOENIX, ARIZONA— Members of the Joint Legislative Ad Hoc Committee on Water Security heard emotional testimony on Friday from Arizona farmers who detailed the hard work and concessions they made to negotiate key provisions of SB 1221. If adopted, the measure would have allowed the Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources to permanently close the Willcox, Hualapai, and Gila Bend groundwater basins to new groundwater pumping and required all existing pumping to be reduced by 10% over 10 years, with the opportunity for up to 15% over 20 years.

 

"We heard testimony from stakeholders and the Department of Water Resources that verifies passing SB 1221 would have stopped the bleeding in these critical groundwater basins," said Senator Sine Kerr, co-sponsor of the bill and Chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, Energy & Water. "Passing SB 1221 would have allowed the Director to permanently close the Willcox, Hualapai, and Gila Bend basins to all new pumping, which would prevented new and existing users from increasing the total amount of groundwater that could be withdrawn from these basins. This is what the local people have been asking for, so they can work on improving groundwater conditions in the basin."

 

"While radical out-of-state environmental groups have played politics with Arizona’s critical groundwater supplies, Republicans have offered meaningful solutions to help address our state’s most pressing groundwater issues, including stopping new groundwater resources from being used," said Representative Gail Griffin, co-sponsor of the bill and Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Energy & Water. "This includes HB 2060, which would have allowed voters to establish an emergency Irrigation Non-Expansion Area in the Willcox basin, and HB 2022, which would have allowed the voters to establish a Domestic Water Improvement District in the Willcox Basin. This year, we introduced many bills to help address groundwater issues throughout the state, including SB 1221 and others. Another bill, HB 2063, would have given each owner of a domestic well in the state a certificated groundwater right, but Governor Hobbs vetoed that bill."

 

"SB 1221 is the most comprehensive piece of groundwater legislation offered since the 1980 Groundwater Management Act," said Representative Tim Dunn, Yuma farmer and former Chair of the House Committee on Land, Agriculture & Rural Affairs. "There’s no law in Arizona allowing a basin to be completely closed or requiring existing users to reduce groundwater use. Not even Active Management Areas require these stipulations. SB 1221 represents the first time in our state’s history where rural farmers have come together and said, 'We’re willing to be regulated; we’re willing to put reductions on ourselves if you’re willing to listen to us on the maximum amount that can be done without putting us out of business.' That has never happened before."

 

"We had an opportunity this year to permanently close three critical groundwater basins to all new groundwater pumping and to require mandatory groundwater reductions of 10% over 10 years, with the opportunity for up to 15% over 20 years," said Senator T.J. Shope, Pinal County resident and Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, Energy &Water. "Each year these basins aren’t closed, additional groundwater can be pumped from the basin. We must close the basins so people can begin to work on improving the aquifer without new users coming in."

 

Video of Friday’s meeting is posted here.

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For more information, contact:

Kim Quintero

Director of Communications | Arizona State Senate Republican Caucus

 

Andrew Wilder

Director of Communications | Arizona State House Republican Caucus

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