Bruce Babbitt returns to the Arizona Capitol to encourage rural groundwater legislation

By Ron Dungan
Published: Wednesday, February 23, 2022 - 8:59am
Updated: Wednesday, February 23, 2022 - 10:47am

Audio icon Download mp3 (1.1 MB)

Bruce Babbitt
Ron Dungan/KJZZ
Former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt talks about groundwater at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix on Feb. 22, 2022.

In 1980, then-Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt signed the Groundwater Management Act, which regulated the state’s urban areas.

Babbitt was back at the state Capitol on Tuesday to support similar legislation for rural counties.

Groundwater in Arizona’s most populated areas is heavily regulated. But in rural areas it is not, and after 20 years of record-breaking drought, that has policy makers concerned.

Babbitt said that regulating urban water use was a good first step that took months of bipartisan negotiations.

“At the time, it didn’t seem so urgent to deal with the other 10 or 11 counties," Babbitt said. "For better or for worse, we said, ‘we’ve got time.’ Now I’ve got to tell you that I didn’t imagine that having time meant that we would do nothing for 42 years."

Babbitt, who served as Bill Clinton’s Interior secretary, made the appearance in support of House Bill 2661, a groundwater bill proposed by state representative Regina Cobb.

Politics Science Water