| Help us strengthen Arizona’s groundwater management by supporting Senate Bill 1635 in the Request to Speak System.|
Groundwater, the source of springs and wells, makes up about 40% of Arizona’s water use, and sustains habitat near rivers and streams. It is critical we protect groundwater for people, birds, and other wildlife.
On Thursday, February 20, SB 1635 will be heard in the Arizona Senate Water and Agriculture Committee—so please weigh in and show your support.
This bill adjusts how the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) can limit the expansion of agriculture in specific areas, thus slowing down the use of groundwater.
Quick background: An Irrigation Non-expansion Area (or INA) is an area where no new agricultural land can come into production. Local communities can petition ADWR to form an INA, and if ADWR determines that there is insufficient groundwater to provide a “reasonably safe supply” for irrigation, then agriculture is no longer permitted to expand within that area.
However, the ability to form an INA has been underutilized because under current law ADWR can only consider current use of groundwater and not projected future use. The result is reactive rather than proactive groundwater management. Agricultural expansion cannot be stopped in an area until groundwater is already depleted from overuse, rendering the law unhelpful for communities seeking to protect their water supplies, preserve their rural heritage, and secure their economic future.
SB 1635 would make locally-driven water planning more sustainable by allowing ADWR to consider reasonable future scenarios of groundwater withdrawals when designating INAs.
We know that birds need water, and that the overuse of groundwater degrades riverside habitat that birds and other wildlife rely on. SB 1635 is a step in the right direction for local communities wanting to protect their precious groundwater resources.
If you do not have a Request to Speak account, create one today so you can advocate for birds in the future.