In 2016, ill-conceived legislation introduced in the Arizona Senate threatened to weaken Arizona’s Groundwater Management Act and put the future of the San Pedro River, a riparian corridor invaluable to birds and other wildlife, into question. With such a critical resource at risk, it was time to activate the Western Rivers Action Network.
Our message was clear – all of Arizona’s water users, including natural habitats, depend on sustainable and reliable water supplies and these bills would put us several steps further from that end. With this message being echoed by Audubon chapters, WRAN members, our Wildlife Resource Partners, and countless other organizations, Governor Doug Ducey was eventually motivated to veto the legislation.
Unfortunately, policies undermining Arizona’s history of sound water management have again been introduced this legislative season. Once again, these policies attack the 2007 Mandatory Adequacy Legislation that forward-thinking counties like Yuma and Cochise have adopted to protect their water resources. Just as importantly, they do nothing to address one fundamental problem - we continue to withdraw more water than is put back into the system. The longer we wait to tackle this structural deficit, the harder it is to advocate for rivers, birds, and other wildlife.
Read on to learn how our volunteers and partners are pushing back, and help us repeat our 2016 victory by taking action today.
Making our Case: Western Rivers Day at the Arizona Legislature
Before the 2018 legislative session began, we were anticipating a busy season and a focus on enacting the Drought Contingency Plan (an agreement between the Lower CO River Basin states on how to share a shortage) and a complimentary in-state plan known as DCP+. It was with this in mind that Audubon chapters, hunter/angler partners, craft brewers, and more embarked on a day of meetings with key policy makers during our January 30th Western Rivers Day at the Legislature.After meeting with WRAN leadership, it should be clear that the current batch of bills is not the legislation we’ve been waiting for.
Amplifying our Voice: The Western Rivers Brewers’ Council (WRBC)
For us to ensure that Arizona’s rivers, birds, and other wildlife remain part of the conversation surrounding water policy, we must make opportunities to speak up as visible and accessible as possible. This month, the WRBC has helped us do just that by joining us for Western Rivers Day, encouraging people to sign up for WRAN in their breweries, and even publishing their opposition to the recent water bills in their local papers.
Putting Members to Action: Arizona’s Audubon Chapter Network
The river most immediately threatened by these recent water bills is the San Pedro, a resource of particular importance to Southeastern Arizona’s birds. For this reason, it’s no surprise that Tucson Audubon wasted no time asking their membership to take action.Check out Tucson Audubon’s action alert and stand up for the San Pedro River.
Without such a strong network, it would be impossible to both defend Arizona’s rivers from the type of legislation we’re seeing this session and push for more responsible water policies that protect the future of Arizona’s rivers and the communities, economies, birds, and other wildlife that depend on them. As always, thank you for taking action.