Arizona Water News

Arizona, 12 other states sue EPA over water rules

Arizona Daily Star | Tony Davis

In one section of its new rules protecting washes and streams, the Environmental Protection Agency says it will narrow the scope of regulation.

In another section, the EPA says it’ll slightly increase the number of rivers, streams and washes eligible for regulation.

Opponents of the new rules say this is contradictory; EPA officials insist it isn’t. But it is a sign of the confusion and complexity that has heightened the controversy over the new rules, published by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers in the Federal Register on Monday.

Last week, Arizona joined 12 other states in filing a lawsuit — one of three filed by a total of more than 20 states — against the rules. The National Association of Home Builders, of which Tucson’s Southern Arizona Home Builders Association is a member, filed a similar suit Thursday.

Developers, farmers, ranchers and other businesses call the rules federal “overreach.” Environmentalists say they ensure that rivers and washes remain ecologically whole and aren’t polluted.

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Arizona water chief: California should share drought burden

Arizona Public Media

Arizona’s water chief wants California to shoulder more of the burden of drought in the Lower Colorado River Basin. The comments came during a hearing in front of the U.S. Senate Committee On Energy and Natural Resources.

When it comes to the Colorado River, Arizona gets the short end of the stick. If the federal government declares a level-one shortage on the river, which is the least severe, the state will absorb 80 percent of the required cutbacks. Even if that ramps up to a level-two or level-three shortage and states give up more water, California will not lose a drop under the current agreement.

Against this backdrop, Thomas Buschatzke, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, called out Arizona’s neighbor.

“Honestly, the fact that California, under the 1968 Basin Project Act, does not take shortages, only Arizona and Nevada do, has created a bit of an unlevel playing field,” Buschatzke told the Senate committee.

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Tiered rates to encourage water conservation on the table

Arizona Daily Sun | Suzanne Adama-Ockrassa 

Encouraging water conservation through lower base rates will likely be part of a new rate structure for the city of Flagstaff’s water, sewer, reclaimed water and stormwater utilities.

Flagstaff Utilities Director Brad Hill gave Council a timeline on when staff plans to get a copy of a utility rate study from its consultant Willdan Financial Services and its plan to reach out to the public on possible adjustments to the rates. A draft copy of the rate study is expected to be available on the Utilities Department’s web page around July 16, Hill said.

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