Various water interests and the Arizona Legislature rallied to reach consensus on a drought contingency plan needed for the Colorado River. Although a deadline of Jan. 31 essentially was met, the federal government requires a number of other steps, including signatures from various parties, before the plan is considered final. Now a hitch has developed.
A key player is the Gila River Indian Community, which has offered to temporarily supply some of its Colorado River water to make the plan work. As we said before in this space, there is a conflict between the tribe and the Arizona House speaker, Rusty Bowers, who has pushed a bill regarding Gila River rights for farmers in eastern Arizona. That needs to be resolved.
This conflict came to the forefront at the end of the week when Gila River Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis said the Bowers bill could keep the tribe from signing off on the drought plan. Meanwhile, Bowers said he has been holding his bill back for now and it is a different issue. But he said he still plans to push the bill.
There obviously is a big problem here and it needs to be resolved quickly. Much effort has been put into the drought plan, and it should be treated as the very high priority that it is.