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Legislation introduced to help regulate rural groundwater supply

Arizona Drought
Posted at 11:57 AM, Feb 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-06 13:57:43-05

PHOENIX — Most of Arizona's groundwater remains unregulated, which is putting the livelihood of many rural communities at risk.

However, new legislation is looking to change that.

House Bill 2661, which is co-sponsored by Arizona House Representatives Regina Cobb and Leo Biasiucci, would allow city and county leadership the opportunity to manage their groundwater for basins at-risk of losing their water supply.

If passed, it would be the first significant groundwater legislation in the state in more than four decades.

This comes during a Tier One water shortage on the Colorado River, meaning millions of gallons of water will not flow through Central Arizona Project canals.

With less water flowing here, many may depend on more groundwater.

This can lead to more problems according to Haley Paul of the National Audubon Society.

"There's no new magical source of water that's coming in. It's a matter of working with what they have and protecting it," Paul says. "Given the ongoing effects of climate change and groundwater pumping, plus things like California regulating its groundwater and agricultural interests coming over to Arizona because there's no regulations, the problem has gotten worse recently."

As of now, only five areas in Arizona have groundwater regulations: Phoenix, Tucson, Prescott, along with Pinal and Santa Cruz counties.

Representative Cobb hopes that changes after this year.

"Rural Arizona is the land of the free. We wanted it to be without regulation. We wanted that freedom to do whatever we wanted to do. Suddenly everybody realized this is an unregulated area. The need for groundwater regulation has been needed in rural Arizona since 1980," Cobb stated.