Government Goings-on

This year’s session of the Arizona Legislature started off slow, with only a few bills introduced.  But now the tally tops 680, plus various resolutions and memorials.  Fortunately only a few look like they could impact water.

Just looking at the Senate (House bills next month), half a dozen bills have been dropped that address some aspect of water supply or quality.  SB 1307 requires cities and towns using consultants to assess development fees, presumably including water resources fees, to require indemnification of the consultants against all liabilities, damages, or costs if the fees are found unconstitutional.  The term “consultant” is also legally defined.  I don’t understand all of the implications, but firms doing business with cities setting development fees or looking at land use need to follow this bill, which is sponsored by leadership and may well pass.

SB 1292 establishes an Arizona Resource Advisory Council (RAC), appointed by the Governor and Legislature.  The Arizona RAC will “act as an advisory body regarding the planning and management of federal land resources in this state.”  Mostly it will advise BLM, but other federal land management agencies and the Governor’s Natural Resources Review Council will also receive the Council’s recommendations.  Proposed membership reflects a diversity of interests.  Under Federal law BLM has had an RAC in Arizona since 1995, so the purpose of a parallel state RAC is not clear (replacement?).

SB 1274 establishes periodic closure cost estimate and financial responsibility reporting requirements for Aquifer Protection Permits.  Water quality standards at the point of compliance are the same as numeric or narrative standards.  The director can require mitigation of non-hazardous releases that threaten drinking water sources no matter when the release occurred. Other APP changes are also made.  This bill looks like a significant tweaking of the APP program.

SB 1267 requires ADWR, ADEQ, Game and Fish and Land Department to monitor Federal resources issues and offer comments.  SB 1185 requires water adequacy reports for subdivisions outside the AMAs to be recorded with the county, and ADWR must update any upgrade of an inadequate water supply to adequate with the provider.  SB 1166 affects extinguishment of irrigation grandfathered rights in the Pinal AMA.

And then there is Senate Resolution 1003, which supports nullification in the state of all EPA rules ever promulgated.  So the nuts are still in place.

Alan Dulaney

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