Arizona Budget Includes Money For Groundwater Infrastructure In Pinal

By Bret Jaspers
Published: Tuesday, May 28, 2019 - 3:20pm
Updated: Tuesday, May 28, 2019 - 3:26pm
Howard Fischer/Capital Media Services
Rep. David Cook in January 2019.

Irrigation districts in Pinal County and elsewhere got a $20 million loan as part of the state budget passed this week.

Farmers in Central Arizona wanted the money so they could start building wells and other groundwater infrastructure as they wait on funding from the federal government.

The loan must be repaid by the end of 2021.

“[Do] I believe the state will be paid back? Absolutely,” said Rep. David Cook (R-LD8) said in pushing for the loan earlier this month.

Previously-identified money for groundwater infrastructure and irrigation efficiency projects includes:

-$7 million general fund appropriation, won during negotiations over the Drought Contingency Plan.

-$2 million redirected from programs for “system conservation,” which incentivizes Colorado River water users to leave water in the river system.

-$9 million from groundwater withdrawal fees that previously went to the Arizona Water Bank.

Under the drought plan, cutbacks to Colorado River deliveries mean Central Arizona farmers will move onto groundwater faster than originally planned.