From Arizona Central (Andrew Nicla and Dustin Gardiner):
A state Senate committee voted 6-1 Wednesday evening to pass a pair of measures that outline how the state would share looming cutbacks on the river’s water and work with other states to take less.
The bills now head to the full Senate and House. Both chambers are expected to pass the bills Thursday, an effort that could stretch into the night as they rush to meet a federal deadline…
By and large, the measures have gained bipartisan support, with sponsors on both sides of the aisle.
But there are critics who say the state is failing to grasp the enormity of what’s causing the historic shortage in the first place. They worry the plan doesn’t do enough to prepare for the impacts of climate change or promote conservation.
Sen. Juan Mendez, D-Tempe, cast the lone vote in opposition in the Senate Water and Agriculture Committee. He said the plan isn’t a long-term solution.
“We owe the future a more earnest plan,” he said. “We live in a desert in a prolonged drought and it’s only going to get hotter. It’s not crazy to consider limits on our sprawling development and industrial agriculture.”
Sen. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, said the plan gives Pinal County farmers crucial funding to improve their groundwater irrigation systems. He said those farmers make significant contributions to the state and national economy.
“We’re helping get this infrastructure built so that they can pump this water and so that we can eat, so that we can wear these clothes that we have,” Gowan said. “Everything is farmed or mined.”
Part of helping to ensure those farmers get that needed funding, Gowan said, is changing a crucial word in the intent clause from “may” or “will” to “shall.”