Rep. Greg Stanton continues to deliver federal resources to boost Arizona’s water infrastructure—this time securing millions more dollars of additional support in the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act of 2022.
The legislation, which passed the House Wednesday evening, will help Valley communities and those throughout the state conserve water and improve resiliency to drought. It now heads to the Senate.
“Protecting our water supply in the midst of the worst drought we’ve ever experienced is absolutely essential,” said Stanton.
Stanton, the only member representing Arizona on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, secured several water projects of significance to the state, including:
- Additional $50 million for Stanton’s Arizona Environmental Infrastructure Authority, bringing the total authority to $200 million. This provision builds on Stanton’s successful work in the 2020 WRDA bill to provide funds to Arizona communities to meet their water and wastewater infrastructure needs. Since authorization of the authority in 2020, more than $24 million in federal funds have been delivered to 16 water projects throughout Arizona.
- $37.5 million to expand and improve the City of Tempe’s Kyrene Water Reclamation Facility and groundwater recharge facilities. The Kyrene Water Reclamation Facility was taken offline in 2010 due to the recession, a reduction of wastewater into the city’s system and significant operational costs. This project will allow Tempe to reactivate the plant to collect, treat, and utilize its reclaimed water while also adding resiliency to the system. This authorization allows to access funds through the Corps for this important drought resiliency project.
“The project to reactivate the Kyrene Water Reclamation Facility and increase groundwater recharge capacity will expand and improve Tempe’s drought resilience in this crucial time of water management,” Tempe Mayor Corey Woods said. “Projects like this demonstrate the power of merging local needs and expertise with federal leadership and resources. We thank Rep. Stanton for advocating for water infrastructure needs that can mitigate impacts of climate change, deeply invest in climate action and enhance responsible water usage.”
- $18.75 million to address aging infrastructure at the City of Chandler’s Ocotillo Water Reclamation Facility. The City of Chandler operates two water reclamation facilities that treat more than 30 million gallons of wastewater each day. A majority of the wastewater flows to Ocotillo Water Reclamation Facility through a 66-inch diameter gravity pipe constructed in the early 1980s. This authorization allows Chandler to access funds through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rehabilitate this aging and deteriorating pipe.
"I thank Congressman Stanton for his advocacy for the residents of Chandler and his district,” Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke said. “Securing federal support for the City's Ocotillo Water Reclamation Facility will allow Chandler to increase the resiliency of the infrastructure that serves our residents and our major industry corridors."
- Direct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite completion of a report needed to continue construction of the Tres Rios ecosystem restoration project. Stanton secured $1.8 million in the fiscal year 2022 federal funding bill to complete this report. The Tres Rios Wetlands are a part of Rio Reimagined, an ongoing green infrastructure project along the Rio Salado spearheaded by the late Sen. John McCain and Rep. Ed Pastor. Specifically, the project is designed to provide flood control protection and the use of treated effluent from a regional wastewater treatment facility to restore hydrological connectivity and sustain fish and wildlife habitat.
- Authorize a Western Infrastructure Study, with a focus on how to improve water conservation and improve drought resilience at dams and reservoirs in the western United States. The final bill authorizes a comprehensive study at Corps owned, operated, or managed reservoirs in the west and southwest to evaluate the effectiveness of implementing nature-based features for the purposes of sustaining operations in response to a changing climate, reducing storage loss due to sediment, increasing water supply, and promoting aquatic ecosystem restoration. The Corps must complete the study within three years of enactment and transmit the findings of the study in a report to Congress.
“Across the West, drought and wildfire are impacting the critical infrastructure for our municipal and agricultural water supply, flood protection, and outdoor recreation opportunities,” Alex Funk, senior counsel and director of water resources for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership said. “Implementing nature-based solutions can reduce our vulnerability to natural disasters while enhancing the health of fish and wildlife habitat—it is a proactive step to improve the overall resilience of Western watersheds. We are grateful for Representative Stanton’s leadership on a Water Resources Development Act that recognizes the value of natural infrastructure and the ecosystem restoration mission of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.”
“Megadrought in the West has increased the risk of wildfires and also threatens communities’ water supplies, hydropower, wildlife habitat, and the agricultural and recreational economies,” Kevin Moran, AVP, Regional Affairs for the Environmental Defense Fund said. “We need to develop innovative approaches to respond to these threats on a major scale in the Colorado River Basin, including strategies that harness the unique capacity of nature-based features to filter, store and enhance water supplies for people and nature. We commend Rep. Stanton for introducing legislation directing the Army Corps of Engineers to study and report on how we can leverage natural infrastructure upstream to benefit water-stressed communities, ecosystems and economies in the West,”, Moran said.
- Authorize a Managed Aquifer Recharge Study and Working Group. Due to ongoing drought, diminishing surface water, and increased agriculture usage, there is a steadily growing national demand for groundwater. Because demand is expected to increase, especially in western states, it’s vital we take action to ensure our nation’s aquifers remain at sufficient and healthy levels. There are already many regions which are struggling to maintain safe water levels in their aquifers at their current level of usage and recharge. The bill directs the Secretary to study opportunities to carry out managed aquifer recharge at Corps of Engineers projects and to create a working group to determine its efficacy.
“Any resource taken for granted is a resource at risk of being lost,” National Ground Water Association CEO, Terry S. Morse, CAE, CIC said. “Groundwater provides almost half of Americans their daily drinking water and more than 55 billion gallons are used every day to irrigate our nation’s crops. So, by exploring more opportunities for managed aquifer recharge projects we are not just combating drought, but also creating jobs and ensuring our communities stay healthy. We would like to thank Congressman Stanton for his leadership on this issue and look forward to seeing full passage of the Water Resources Development Act.”
- Establish District Tribal Liaisons. To better support tribal communities, the bill requires each Corps district with Tribal communities to establish and maintain a permanent Tribal liaison position. In Arizona, which has 22 tribal nations, this is an important step to connect tribes with the Corps so they can get the help they need to protect Arizona’s water.
More information, including full bill text and a section by section, is available HERE.