With Negotiations Stalled, Sen. Kelly Urges Interior to Lay Out Options to Protect Arizona Water and Colorado River System

Kelly secured drought funding in Inflation Reduction Act, was chief negotiator on drought provisions in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Today, after working with Arizona water leaders as negotiations between Colorado River basin states have stalled, Senator Kelly wrote Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland pressing for the department to lay out options to implement drought mitigation measures in order to protect Arizona water resources and the Colorado River system. 

“Arizona has already reduced its consumption of Colorado River water at a pace and scale not seen in other states. In 2022 alone, Arizona farmers, cities, and tribes have pledged resources to conserve over 800,000-acre-feet of water—an amount equal to nearly one-third of our state’s full allocation,” Kelly said in the letter to the Department of the Interior. 

“In the Basin states negotiations, Arizona has offered to put more wet water on the table than any other state, while other parties have offered a fraction of the same amount. Other states with significant water allocations have so far offered insufficient or uncertain amounts of water. Therefore, as a matter of accountability for the missed August 15th deadline, I request that you outline the Department’s options and legal authorities for implementing mitigation measures that would prevent drastic consequences for Arizona and other Colorado Basin States, including the loss of hydropower generation at Hoover Dam and reduced Colorado River water availability for any user in the Lower Basin,” Kelly continued in the letter. 

Read the full letter here

As a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the Committee on Environment and Public Works, Kelly has worked on and passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act, and the Water Resources Development Act to deliver water infrastructure improvements and drought mitigation for Arizona. In October, Kelly chaired a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Water and Power to examine the historic drought affecting Arizona and the western United States.

Kelly was also recently named the “Groundwater Protector of the Year,” an honor given by the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) each year to one member of Congress who goes above and beyond in the protection of and advocacy for groundwater. Kelly is the first Arizona member of Congress to receive the award.