The Community Serves as Key Partner for Water Conservation
June 2, 2023
Gila River Indian News
The Gila River Indian Community will be an integral part of water conservation in Arizona and throughout the western U.S. if a landmark proposed plan reached in consensus with California and Nevada is adopted by the Bureau of Reclamation.
At a news conference on May 25 at the Central Arizona Project headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, Governor Katie Hobbs described a new “Lower Basin Plan,” that would address the Lower Colorado Basin states’ drought utilizing voluntary cutbacks. Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis, Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke and CAP Board President Terry Goddard attended the event as well.
“If adopted, this decisive action will provide immediate relief and allow us to refocus our efforts on post-2026 plans to secure a resilient Arizona so we can continue to prosper for generations to come,” said Gov. Hobbs. “No Arizonan will be forced to reduce their water use. This is a great deal for Arizona, but we know long-term actions are needed and I look forward to continuing these partnerships.”
The Lower Basin Plan will conserve three million acre-feet of water—nearly three trillion gallons—and protect the dangerously low water levels of Lake Mead and Lake Powell until 2026. Additionally, all three states in the proposal will determine water conservation guidelines that will meet their residential and commercial needs without enforcing critical federal water cuts.
If the plan is adopted, the Community will be a pivotal contributor to the new plan for Arizona.
“For the Community, we’re in this because this is who we are, this is in our culture and tradition: To conserve; to be good stewards of the water,” said Gov. Lewis. “We see ourselves modeling good behavior in the time of this historic drought.” Of the total three million acre-feet of conserved water, Gov. Lewis said, GRIC will contribute 15 percent.
Gov. Lewis commended Arizona Gov. Hobbs’ for proactively working with the Lower Basin states and tribes to establish this proposed historic plan. “We have shown that Arizona can truly lead the way to find creative and cooperative solutions to the thorniest of issues,” he said.
Through the Lower Basin Plan proposal, Arizona, California and Nevada have suggested proposed water-saving measures that the federal government will enact in each state. These will head off mandatory cuts in usage outlined in a draft Environmental Impact Statement released in April, by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
“Whether you are a new parent worried about the future of your child, a business owner concerned about the sustainability of our economy or a student who just wants the government to take climate change seriously, Arizona is taking action,” said Gov. Hobbs.
The Lower Basin plan will go before the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for further negotiations and possible adoption into a revised Environmental Impact Statement. Adopting the proposed plan is expected to bring measurable improvements to the Colorado River Water system and replenish Arizona’s water table by 2026.