With only three days left before reaching a federal government deadline, Arizona lawmakers finally have something to vote on for the state’s drought contingency plan.
About two weeks ago, Gov. Doug Ducey, flanked by Democratic and Republican leaders, urged lawmakers to approve the drought contingency plan before the Jan. 31 deadline.
The plan is part of a seven-state agreement, which also includes Mexico, that would see all of them adopt new restrictions and changes to keep the Colorado River from reaching an all-time low.
A federal deadline of Jan. 31, was imposed on the deal, so all seven states must pass legislation approving of the plan and outlining the finer details by that day. Arizona is the last to approve of some form of the plan and the only one that requires legislative approval.
House Joint Resolution 2002 is a joint resolution would authorize Tom Buschatzke, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, to enter into any agreements related to the DCP. His authority to do so would become null on Aug. 31.
House Speaker Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, is the main sponsor on the bill with Democrats Charlene Fernandez and Rosanna Gabaldón and Republican Gail Griffin co-sponsoring.
The joint resolution goes into little detail on the drought contingency plan and mainly gives Buschatzke the authority to conduct water deals between the state and other entities.
If the Legislature approves of the joint resolution, it will be one of the final hurdles needed, other than federal legislation that will be needed in order to ratify the agreements.
“I am looking forward to voting yes on the DCP resolution, and I believe we are very close on the negotiated implementation plan,” Gabaldón said in an emailed statement to the Mirror. “Our caucus has been pushing for more conservation as part of this plan so that we are looking toward the future and being as smart as we can.”
Bowers, Ducey and the others could not be reached for comment by the time of publication.