Inclusion and collaboration: Governor Ducey has a new strategy for water in Arizona

Governor Ducey has a new strategy for water conservation in ArizonaLast week, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey illustrated strong and consistent leadership in addressing Arizona’s pressing water supply needs with two significant announcements.

A powerful voice for water

First, Governor Ducey appointed longtime water attorney and Gila River Indian Community member Rodney Lewis to the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD) Board of Directors. This appointment was widely applauded across the region as a positive step, most notably as a sign that including diverse voices in water management decisions is key in moving the state toward improved sustainability and collaboration, both within Arizona and with regional partners in the Lower Colorado River Basin.

Lewis is the first member of an Arizona Indian Tribe to gain admission to the Arizona State Bar, and he famously led the negotiations that resulted in the Arizona Water Rights Settlements Act of 2004. 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, Lewis’ broad experience will be immensely valuable to the Board.

This action by Governor Ducey signals a clear desire to fairly represent all Arizona water users in important upcoming water policy decisions. Arizona tribes have shown their willingness to be leaders in water management and work with their neighbors to find solutions that benefit the Colorado River system as a whole. Mr. Lewis’ appointment to the CAWCD board is a new opportunity for tribes to continue demonstrating water management leadership in the state.

A cooperative agreement

Governor Ducey has a new strategy for water in Arizona

Photo courtesy of the Arizona Department of Water Resources

Also announced last week was an innovative long-term water management agreement between the State of Arizona, the Gila River Indian Community, City of Phoenix and the Walton Family Foundation. These partner organizations will continue efforts to conserve water, create a flexible and resilient water supply for Arizona's six million residents, and bring together diverse stakeholders to help solve Arizona's pressing water issues, starting with the health of the Colorado River system.

Solutions to Arizona’s water issues will take cooperation, collaboration and creativity. These two announcements demonstrate a spirit of innovation and urgency that will be required to ensure the region’s water sustainability in the future. We applaud Governor Ducey’s continued leadership on Arizona water, and we look forward to working with him on these issues.

This post was developed in collaboration with American Rivers.

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