Federal officials had hoped western states would arrive in Las Vegas this week ready to finalize Drought Contingency Plans that would fairly distribute the impacts of a looming Colorado River water shortage throughout the region.
With Arizona still ironing out details for its part of the deal, that deadline now seems out of reach.
But Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday had a message for those attending the annual Colorado River Water Users conference, which begins Wednesday: Don’t lose faith in Arizona, which after years of talks is “very close” to settling on conditions it can swallow.
And to state lawmakers, he offered a warning: Don’t mess with the hard-won compromises farmers, tribal nations and other stakeholders have reached so far.
“Let me be clear: I will not agree to any proposal that fails to live up to certain principles — protecting Lake Mead, transitioning to a drier future and balancing the interests of all water users,” he said at the Business H20 Water Innovation Summit in Phoenix.
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Legislators, who reconvene in January, must sign off on any drought-contingency plan affecting the state.
“I will reject any plan or policy that comes across my desk if it fails to adhere to (those) principles,” Ducey said.