Arizona has always been a leader in water planning, and in many respects is decades ahead of our neighboring states in water management. For example, California would be Exhibit A on how NOT to manage your water resources.
A major reason that Arizona is so effective at water management is our requirement that landowners in Active Management Areas (AMAs) prove they have a 100 year water supply to the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) prior to developing the property. These well crafted stipulations have been in place for decades, are state managed and enforced, and have received little to no federal interference. Until now.
The Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has decided to file a lawsuit in Sierra Vista, a medium sized town in Southern Arizona, declaring that a subdivision that both ADWR and the town approved “may” jeopardize BLM’s claim for groundwater in the area. This is despite the fact that BLM currently has no legal right to the water—they are making a claim to water in a yet to be decided water adjudication settlement. An administrative law judge has already ruled against the federal agency.
None of this matters to the BLM, since the real goal is to get the courts to redefine Arizona water laws and allow the federal government to take control of our state’s water resources and water management. It is also why radical environmental groups like the Center of Biological Diversity are assisting BLM to stake claim to our water.
This power play needs to be stopped, and is why Governor Ducey should sign Senate Bill 1268. The legislation would modify Arizona’s water laws to protect state oversight of our water resources and block BLM’s radical lawsuit from moving forward. It would also ensure that local jurisdiction still have oversight on development and planning in their area.
SB 1268 is a reasonable response to federal overreach and prevents BLM from taking Arizona’s water. The Free Enterprise Club urges support for this common sense measure.