The billion-dollar investment in the state's water supplies sounds good on paper, but lawmakers must also distribute funding effectively to mitigate the state's urgent water shortage.
An op-ed by Joanna Allhands argues that Arizona governor Doug Ducey's recent proposal to commit $1 billion to water projects won't be enough to solve the state's water woes. The governor's vague pledge, Allhands writes, leaves many unanswered questions about how the funds will be distributed.
Allhands also suggests that the governor's proposal doesn't bring enough attention to conservation, rather choosing to focus on projects that seek to augment water supplies. "If we only focus on finding new water, it leaves little incentive to use the water we have more wisely – something we could do quicker and, in most cases, at far lower cost."
According to Allhands, many of the more glamorous projects like desalination plants depend on other parties and are years away from completion. Meanwhile, the state could "raid" the general fund and deplete the water funding before it's allocated to specific projects.
Allhands cautions that lawmakers shouldn't forget about the policy side of things, even though those might be more difficult conversations. State leaders must tackle "not only how we sustain the uses that are already here, but also how we grow and where and (importantly) who pays for all of this."
Southwestern states are facing increasingly dire drought conditions. Last summer, when Lake Mead reached historic lows not seen since the reservoir's construction, the federal government declared a water shortage and implemented cutbacks for farmers and water agencies across the region.
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