Legislature Adjourned after Active Session

Back to Spring 2012 newsletter

The following is a sampling of water related activity in the past legislative session that adjourned May 3, 2012.

A study of large-scale water harvesting received final OK. HB2363 established a 29-member Joint Legislative Study Committee to evaluate macro-harvested water issues. Large-scale rainwater harvesting has potential that is not as well understood as small-scale harvesting, and this committee aims to fill the information gap. This bill passed in both the House and Senate and was signed by the Governor on March 27, 2012. The study committee must deliver a report with recommendations to the Governor and Legislature by September 30, 2013.

Efforts to force Tucson Water to end its moratorium on extending service outside its boundaries were suspended by adjournment. HB2416 would have required cities or towns in counties with between 500,000 and 1.3 million residents, which provide water services to people outside of its municipal boundaries, [Tucson] to supply water services to landowners outside of their boundaries. Several characteristics would all have to apply: the land outside these boundaries is not within the territory served by the city or town that distributes potable water through a municipal delivery system; the property owner agrees to pay reasonable fees or charges; and the land outside of the boundaries is accessible to the water delivery infrastructure of the town.

A new program will allow cities, towns and schools to set up energy and water savings accounts to fund water and energy saving projects. HB2830 laid out guidelines for cities, towns, or schools that choose to establish an energy and water savings account. The legislation also details how such funds are allowed to be used. Funds can be used for capital investment only in energy or water savings measures in facilities owned by the locality. Or it can be used to repay financial institutions for those projects. The bill was approved by the Senate and signed by the governor on April 10.

An agreement between the United States and Mexico allowing Mexico to store Colorado River Water was supported by a Joint Resolution of the Arizona Legislature. HJR2002 allows the director of ADWR to forebear Arizona’s rights to surplus water from the Colorado River in support of the agreement with Mexico. The director is also authorized to enter into agreements to forebear additional Intentionally Created Surplus, provided that there are no adverse impacts on Arizona water users. Having passed in the House, the bill later passed the Senate unanimously on April 3.

The Senate initiated a measure with two separate impacts, one relating to water harvesting and one to instream flow applications. First SB1236 requires ADWR to adopt rules governing acceptable water harvesting practices and to establish a method for measuring the base amount of water harvested. The ADWR will also be required to establish two pilot projects in water harvesting, monitor and evaluate them, and release information from the projects to the public. The legislation also lays out additional specific requirements for people filing instream flow applications, including the requirement to include five years of measured instream flow data with the application. The result is to make application for instream flow permits more difficult. On March 26, the House approved the bill with amendments and the governor eventually signed it on April 17.

A pair of bills dealing with funding for the Arizona Department of Water Resources failed to make it through the legislative process. First, SB1288 would have repealed legislation that gave ADWR the ability to levy fees on municipalities in order to fund its activities. In January 2012, ADWR had collected almost $6 million in municipal fees. The impact of repealing the municipal fee was estimated at $6.3 million for FY 2013. Thus SB1288 also appropriates $6.3 million from the General Fund for ADWR to use in FY 2012-2013. To mitigate the impact on the General fund, HB2493 created a joint legislative committee to investigate possible funding sources for the ADWR. The bill also repealed ADWR’s ability to collect fees from municipalities, starting on June 30, 2014. It was estimated that in that year the impact on the General Fund could be up to $7 million, but made no appropriation. The Senate passed SB 2188 and conveyed it to the House, where it passed House Appropriations on March 21 and held in Rules. HB 2493 made a similar trip in the opposite direction, but was held in Senate appropriations.