U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) introduced legislation yesterday to improve water supply infrastructure.

The Water Supply Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Utilization Act gives local operators of federally-owned facilities the tools they need to maintain and improve aging water infrastructure in a timely manner. Eighty percent of the Bureau of Reclamation’s (BOR) facilities are more than 50 years old and are in dire need of major upgrades or replacement costs.  

McSally spoke about her bill yesterday while chairing a U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power hearing on pending legislation.

“Throughout Arizona and across the West— new storage, conveyance, and recycling projects are needed to increase drought resilience and provide the water security required to sustain growing populations and promote economic growth,” McSally said. “There is also a tremendous need to reinvest in the water infrastructure that our farms and cities were built upon, many of which are a century old.  

“As Chairwoman, I have made it a priority to address these important issues – whether specific to Arizona or more broadly – with new tools that will benefit western water projects across the board. To that end, later today I will be introducing my Water Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Utilization Act. This bill will allow water managers to access the funds they need to repair and rebuild aging facilities and promote efforts to utilize our existing surface storage facilities to the maximum extent possible.” 

“We are helping Arizonans access resources to update our water infrastructure and secure our state’s water future,” said Sen. Sinema.

There is strong local support for the Water Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Utilization Act.

“The Imperial Dam is the major diversion structure in the Colorado River system delivering six million acre-feet of water annually to farms and communities in southwestern Arizona southern California,” said Tom Davis, General Manager of the Yuma County Water Users Association. “This structure is nearly 100 years old and requires expensive extraordinary maintenance to ensure it will continue to function properly and support the region’s economy for the next 100 years. This legislation is absolutely necessary for those of us that are operational repayment entities to be able to afford these necessary improvements. I want to personally thank Senators McSally and Sinema for taking the lead in advancing this legislation.”

“For over a century, SRP water infrastructure has been delivering renewable and reliable water supplies that have supported much of Arizona’s economic growth,” said Dave Roberts, the Associate General Manager for Water Resources at Salt River Project (SRP). “This bill is an important next step in ensuring that we get the most out of the water infrastructure in Arizona. SRP thanks our senators for their continued leadership on water issues.” 

 Key provisions of the plan to improve water supply infrastructure:

• Simplifies Process for Maintaining Facilities: Streamlines the process for local operators to access BOR funds to initiate extraordinary maintenance projects with extended repayment through a clearly defined application and review process.  Creates a revolving fund where congress can direct appropriations and where repayment would come back to BOR for use on future extraordinary maintenance projects without further appropriations.

• Ensures Funding of Key Dam Safety Projects : Raises the Safety of Dams program authorization by $550M to better match the workload estimate. The Safety of Dams program helps fund major modifications to dam’s structural integrity. 

• Creates Flood Control Manual and Reservoir Operations Pilot Program: Gives operators of BOR reservoirs more flexibility to temporarily store water in dedicated flood control space during certain low-risk times of the year. 

The text of the bill is available HERE.