Collaborating for the Colorado River

AZ WRAN News – March 2017

ACTION NEEDED – Thank our Governor for his leadership in protecting Arizona’s water!

If you agree that equity and collaboration are critical to protecting Arizona’s water, rivers, birds, and habitat, then we have some good news for you!

This month, the Governor appointed Rodney Lewis of the Gila River Indian Community to the Board of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD). At a time when Arizona and its Colorado River neighbors are working hard to find solutions to drought and dropping reservoir levels at Lake Mead, it is hugely valuable to have someone with Mr. Lewis’ qualifications in this position. We look forward to working with him and finding common ground through our mutual concern for habitat and water for natural areas.

In addition, water policy makers took another step towards inclusive engagement by signing a cooperative water agreement between the Gila River Indian Community, the State of Arizona, the City of Phoenix, and the Walton Family Foundation. This agreement will help to secure Arizona's long-term water supplies and has the potential to greatly benefit our rivers and the birds and other wildlife that depend on them.

Help us show support for these positive steps and remind our leaders that flow for natural areas must remain a key piece of ongoing water planning discussions. Thank Governor Ducey today!

WRAN Webinar Series: Allocating Water for Habitats:

When getting into the weeds of water policy, it’s easy to grow disconnected from the birds, other wildlife, and habitats that water management decisions ultimately affect.  That’s why the Western Rivers Action Network is so important – it’s up to us to ensure that water for natural areas remains a key consideration in ongoing water planning discussions.

Our spring webinar series, themed around the allocation of water for habitat, is sure to reconnect you to the places that inspire you to take action for Arizona’s rivers.  Register for these webinars using the links below or check out our WRAN Events page to learn more.

Verde River State of the Watershed Conference:

The incredible value of the Verde River is obvious.  It supports 78 percent of Arizona's breeding bird species - including threatened birds like the Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Southwestern Willow Flycatcher.  It provides recreational opportunities for kayakers, sportsmen, and others.  It supports the economies of towns like Clarkdale and Camp Verde and provides 40 percent of the surface water delivered to Phoenix.  With over 7,000 wells in the Verde Valley and populations growing in Yavapai county, it's never been more important to take care of this vital resource.

On May 10th and 11th, join the Verde Watershed Restoration Coalition (VWRC) in celebrating the Verde River during their Verde River State of the Watershed Conference.  You'll be able to select from a dozen field trips led by local watershed experts, network with a broad group of partners, participate in educational sessions, and learn from speakers including Mr. Vincent Randall, Elder of the Yavapai-Apache Nation and Sarah Porter, Director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy.

To learn more and register for this conference, visit the the Friend of the Verde River Greenway's website.  Don't forget to visit our WRAN representatives while you're there!

WRAN State Legislative Update:

Just because we don’t ask you to take action on an issue doesn’t mean it’s not on our radar.  We carefully track issues that are likely to affect flow in Arizona’s rivers and we call on you, our members, at the times when your voice will have the biggest impact.  Read on to learn about what we’re keeping our eyes on.

  • State of Arizona Budget: Arizona Department of Water Resources
    Governor Doug Ducey’s Executive Budget requested a budget increase of $2.8 million for the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) in Fiscal Year 2018. This budget increase would have two significant impacts on Arizona’s water future.  First, it would allow the ADWR to continue its efforts to protect our water resources through statewide planning, careful groundwater management, and the development of creative, flexible, and responsive policies that balance water demands with available supplies.  Secondly, it would allow the agency to develop and execute the multi-state Drought Contingency Plan, which will conserve water in Lake Mead and reduce the likelihood of the lake dropping to critical levels. WRAN is firmly in support of this funding increase, but it is unclear whether or not the request will be fulfilled in the final budget.
  • House Bill 2112: Water management and partisan politics don’t mix
    Over 500 WRAN members took action against this legislation which would have required candidates for the Central Arizona Project (CAP) Board of Directors to have their party designation on the election ballot, inserting partisan politics into the otherwise non-partisan endeavor of water management.  A bipartisan vote in the House stopped the bill in its tracks, but the bill’s sponsor is attempting to bring it up for reconsideration.  When selecting those who serve on the CAP Board, decisions should be based on what's best for the Colorado River - not on partisan politics. If you haven't already done so, take action on this issue today.
  • Senate Bill 1412: Gila River Adjudication
    The Gila River General Stream Adjudication is the judicial process to determine the extent and priority of water rights in the Gila River system.  This bill, proposed by Senator Gail Griffin, would alter the order in which water rights claims are heard by the courts.  It is unclear what effect these changes would have on rivers and habitat, but we will continue to track the issue.  To learn more about the stream adjudication process, visit the ADWR’s website.

Thanks as always for all you do to protect Arizona's rivers and rivers across the Colorado River Basin.  Until next month, don't forget to check out our WRAN website and Facebook pages to keep up on the latest news and opportunities to take conservation action!

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