The Latest: Arizona lawmakers OK Colorado River drought plan

PHOENIX (AP) — The Latest on a drought plan for the Colorado River (all times local):

5 p.m.

The Arizona Legislature has voted to join a multi-state plan to conserve Colorado River water in the face of prolonged drought.

The House and Senate voted overwhelmingly for the drought plan Thursday as the state faced a deadline to sign on or let the federal government impose its own restrictions, which would likely hit Arizona even harder.

Lawmakers approved two measures. One lets the state sign onto the drought plan. The other implements an agreement among Arizona water users to spread around the cuts in water.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey is a strong supporter of the plan and is expected to promptly sign both measures.

The Arizona cuts will fall primarily on farmers in Pinal County, who have the lowest-priority access to Colorado River water.

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4 p.m.

The Arizona Senate has voted to join a seven-state Colorado River drought plan, and the state House was expected to follow suit.

The Senate overwhelmingly approved two measures to implement the drought plan on Thursday. The House gave preliminary approval and was scheduled for a final vote later in the day.

Arizona is the only state that requires legislative approval to join the agreement, which will require the states to take less water from the river in hopes of keeping major reservoirs from reaching catastrophically low levels.

The Arizona cutbacks would fall primarily on farmers. Securing approval for the plan required complex negotiations to help those farmers by providing money and alternative sources of water.

The Legislature’s approval would be the final puzzle piece that avoids potentially more severe cutbacks imposed by the federal government.

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12 a.m.

Arizona lawmakers face a Thursday deadline to let the state join a drought plan for the Colorado River or risk blowing up a compromise years in the making for the seven states that draw water from the constrained river.

Arizona is the only state that requires legislative approval to join the agreement, which will require the states to take less water from the river in hopes of keeping major reservoirs from reaching catastrophically low levels.

The House and Senate are scheduled to debate the legislation Thursday.

The Legislature’s approval would be the final puzzle piece that avoids potentially more severe cutbacks imposed by the federal government.

The river serves 40 million people in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California.

Categories: California News