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State Senate President Warren Petersen speaking with the media at a press conference at the State Capitol building in Phoenix, February 15, 2023. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Water Wars Turns Into Left vs Right Battle

Conservatives argue it is time for water relief; liberals disagree

By Steve Kirwan, November 26, 2023 7:22 am

Arizona’s ongoing battle over water rights is taking a sharp swing into “left-versus-right” territory as Senate President Warren Petersen (R-LD14) looks to reshape the 1980 Groundwater Management Act dramatically. The act requires residential developers to prove the availability of a 100-year water supply to build on a tract of land.

Petersen’s residential real estate broker background gives credibility to his argument that the mandate is subjective and out of touch. He states that its reliance on outdated water models that fail to recognize improved water technology results in requirements untethered to sound water development guidelines and growth needs. He claims that worst of all was the 100-year number itself, advising that it was seemingly “plucked out of nowhere,” given that California, the state with arguably the worst water management system in the nation, mandates only 25 years of reserves.

Despite calling for a reduction, the Senator has yet to announce what he believes is the correct number. In an Arizona Capitol Times article dated November 18, 2023, Petersen stated, “We could say we’ll go five years or 10 years higher than anybody in the whole nation.” He added that with that as the standard and new “modeling” of supply, “there’s suddenly a boat-load of water for housing.”

However, it’s not likely that Katie Hobbs will allow such a change. In that same article, Gov. Hobbs stated, “The 100-year assured water supply is a strength that gives Arizonans and businesses around the world confidence that Arizona will continue to grow. We will never follow California’s lead.”

Given the dramatic growth of incoming Californians, there’s no question that more housing is needed. The challenge will be finding water to support those homes.

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