Kelly Secures Arizona Priorities in Committee-Passed Water Resources Development Act 2024

Bill includes key provisions of Kelly’s bipartisan, bicameral Drought Resilient Infrastructure Act to support Arizona communities

This week, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly celebrated the unanimous passage of the Thomas R. Carper Water Resources Development Act of 2024 (WRDA 2024) in the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), where he secured key provisions for Arizona and the western United States that will improve water infrastructure, flood control, and drought resilience. This biennial legislation authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Civil Works program, which includes the study, planning, construction, and operation and maintenance of Army Corps water resources projects.  

WRDA 2024 includes key provisions of the Drought Resilient Infrastructure Act, legislation Kelly introduced in May this year to provide new resources and authorities through the Corps to support communities experiencing long-term drought conditions. As Chair of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Kelly played a central role in developing and negotiating the legislation. Over the past year, he held hearings in D.C. and in Flagstaff to hear solutions and projects to prioritize for the bill.  

“With today’s passage of the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act, we’re one step closer to expanding the Army Corps of Engineers’ ability to help states like Arizona prepare for and respond to drought conditions,” said Senator Kelly, Chair of the Senate EPW Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “I’m particularly glad to have included provisions that will expedite critical infrastructure and flood control projects in Arizona. Now, let’s get this passed and signed into law to better secure Arizona’s water future.” 

Sen. Kelly delivers remarks during the EPW hearing to consider WRDA 2024

Click here to read bill text. Click here to watch Kelly’s remarks during the committee hearing. 

See below for a breakdown of key Arizona priorities Kelly secured in WRDA 2024: 


Kelly supported projects for Arizona tribes within the Corps’ Tribal Partnership Programs: 

  • A plan to develop a comprehensive floor control plan throughout the Ak-Chin Indian Community, which will provide the footprint to resurrect culturally significant vegetative resources, wetland restoration/development, wash maintenance and erosion control, flood management plan, water recharge, and removal of invasive plant species. 
  • The Watershed Management Plan in Navajo Nation—which covers the Dinnebito, Oraibi, Polacca, and Jeddito Subwatersheds of the Little Colorado River Basin—to address identified water resources and land-related needs of the subwatersheds. 
  • A project in Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community to reshape the river channel and improve approximately 1,487 acres of habitat. 
  • TheGila River Indian Community Renewable Energy Pilot Project, which calls for the installation of solar panels, over an irrigation canal. 


Thanks to Kelly’s work, WRDA 2024 directs expedited completion of projects in several Arizona cities and counties: 

  • Repairs to Maricopa County’s Cave Buttes Dam, which protects over one million downstream residents and $15 billion in residential and commercial property. 
  • Rehabilitation of the McMicken Dam in Maricopa County, which protects Luke Air Force Base, as well as 130,000 residents. 
  • Completion of the Tres Rios Project to restore nearly 1,500 acres of riparian and flood plain habitat with recreation and incidental flood damage reduction in the City of Phoenix. 
  • The Winslow Levee project to protect the city from risk of flooding during moderate to high flow events in the Little Colorado Mainstream. 
  • The Rio de Flag flood control project in the City of Flagstaff to significantly reduce flooding in neighborhoods such as Southside. 
  • An update to the Roosevelt Dam’s flood control manual to allow for better utilization of the dam’s flood control space. 


Kelly secured language to direct the Corps to expedite completion of the following projects to help cities better assess infrastructure and manage flood conditions: 

  • The McCormick Wash rehabilitation project in the City of Globe. 
  • The Rose and Palm Garden Washes flood control project in the City of Douglas. 
  • The Lower Santa Cruz River study in Pinal County. 
  • The Corazon de los Tres Rios del Norte Recreation Master Plan in Pima County. 


Through Kelly’s efforts, this bill provided dedicated funding to construct new water infrastructure projects across the state: 

  • An expansion of the City of Tucson’s Reclaimed Water System to the southern portion of its service area, preventing future use of groundwater and reducing reliance on Colorado River water to meet non-potable uses.  
  • A new canal for the Tohono O’odham Nation to enable the Tohono O’odham Nation to access its water allocation. 
  • A drainage improvement project in the City of Glendale to alleviate recurring flooding, which occurs near the intersection of Bethany Home Road, 51st Avenue, and Grand Avenue. 
  • An advanced wastewater treatment facility in the City of Flagstaff to enable potable reuse. 

See below for a breakdown of key provisions of the Kelly-introduced Drought Resilient Infrastructure Act included in WRDA 2024: 


Creates a pilot program in Arizona and California to operate dams and reservoirs owned or regulated by the Corps differently during periods of long-term drought. This could allow facilities, like SRP’s Roosevelt Dam, to retain more water during wet years to save it for future dry years. 


Allows the Corps to accept funds provided by other federal agencies to formulate, review, or revise flood control curves for federal reservoir projects. This would authorize Reclamation to provide the Corps funding to update flood control curves at a federal reservoir during times of drought. 


Modifies the Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operation Pilot Program in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 to require an evaluation and report of operations at a reservoir in the Colorado River Basin to determine the viability of forecast-informed reservoir operations, this involves including water conservation as a project purpose and modifying the facilities to support drought resilience. 


Directs the Secretary to carry out a study in Arizona to determine whether to include water supply as a project purpose of a project if a request for modification is made by a non-federal interest or the State of Arizona. 


Modifies the Continuing Authorities Program for Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration by including projects that enhance drought resilience restoring wetlands or removing non-Native species, like the invasive Saltcedar trees in Arizona. 


Under this pilot program, a provision of the Kelly-introduced Contaminated Lands Reclamation Act, the Secretary will identify five tribal projects where the authority to carry out construction for the eligible project would be transferred to the tribal government. 

See what Arizona leaders are saying about the provisions Kelly secured for the state: 

“This legislation provides critical funding that lays the groundwork for necessary improvements to our Tribal drainage system and area washes, making our Ak-Chin Indian Community more resilient against stormwater and flooding. On behalf of the Ak-Chin Community Council, I thank Senator Kelly for supporting this important investment in public safety and land management for our people,” said Ak-Chin Chairman Robert Miguel.  

“The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) is critically important legislation that will provide needed authority and funding to clean up unexploded ordinance on the Tohono O’odham Nation dating back to World War II. The Nation greatly appreciates Senator Kelly’s longtime support and leadership that will address a major public safety issue and correct decades of injustice.  It also will allow the Nation to resume using its land for agriculture, allow the Nation to benefit from its related water rights, and provide for desperately needed water infrastructure that will benefit the Nation, the region, and ultimately the entire state of Arizona,” said Verlon Jose, Chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation.  

“Thank you to Senator Kelly for his support of the Water Resources Development Act and for protecting the future of the Colorado River Basin. The City of Tucson values all sources of water equally: Surface water, groundwater, recycled water, and stormwater. We are leading as one of the first cities in the country to use recycled water in the form of treated effluent for irrigation and to offset the use of groundwater. By expanding the Reclaimed Water System, this will bring new types of recycled water users and develop infrastructure in one of the fastest developing areas in Tucson,” said Tucson Mayor Regina Romero. 

“Thank you, Senator Kelly, for working with your Senate colleagues to authorize $5,200,000 for the City of Glendale’s Bethany Home and 51st Avenue Drainage Project. This funding is a commitment from Congress and the City of Glendale to mitigate flooding in this area, thus improving the quality of life and safety of the community. On behalf of all Glendale residents, we thank you for your service to our state,” said City of Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers. 

“We are excited that our Senators fought to include two provisions in the 2024 WRDA bill that will directly benefit the City of Flagstaff.  The first will ensure that the Rio de Flag project will be completed in an expedited fashion, which the City has been working to design and construct for the last several decades. The second will authorize the City’s new innovative Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility that will more effectively treat waste water and will be more cost-efficient and effective for our residents.  We thank Senators Sinema and Kelly for their unwavering commitment to our community’s needs by including these important provisions in the bill,” said Flagstaff Mayor Becky Daggett. 

“Because of Senators Sinema and Kelly’s strong and steadfast support, I am confident the Winslow Levee Project will become a reality. Their leadership in ensuring that the project is expeditiously completed will protect the City from having to ever endure a catastrophic flood again.  We are grateful for our Senators unwavering commitment to this project and their inclusion of this provision in the WRDA bill to fast track completion of this project,” said Winslow Mayor Roberta “Birdie” Cano. 

“Senators Sinema and Kelly continue to work hard for the interests of our residents here in Douglas. Inclusion of the provision in the 2024 WRDA Senate bill to expedite completion of the flood mitigation project along the Rose and Palm Garden Wash is yet another example of their tireless efforts to continue to serve the needs of our community. I commend our Senators for their great work on behalf of our community and all of Arizona,” said City of Douglas Mayor Donald Huish.