Rio Reimagined Project Would Get Renewed Support from New Sinema-Cornyn Legislation

Jul 23, 2021

Senators’ bipartisan legislation formalizes program that revitalizes the river corridor through the Rio Reimagined Project

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced the Urban Waters Federal Partnership Act—bipartisan legislation that authorizes a program led by the Environmental Protection Agency that supports the revitalization of the river corridor through the Rio Reimagined Project.
“We’re continuing the important work started by Senator John McCain in revitalizing the Rio Reimagined Project, which will improve water systems, boost economic growth, and reconnect communities,” said Sinema.
“My husband worked tirelessly for Arizona, the business community and local municipalities to imagine a grand new vision for the valley’s river corridor. That vision, the Rio Reimagined project, continues on today. I spoke in favor of this project’s Urban Waters Federal Partnership designation in 2020, and I applaud Senator Sinema for introducing legislation to move this forward.” -Cindy McCain, Chair of the McCain Institute
“The Gila River Indian Community applauds Senator Sinema for her leadership on the Urban Waters Federal Partnership Act.  This bill will support the ongoing efforts of Rio Reimagined in restoring and revitalizing the Salt River, and other urban river systems around the country, and we support Senator Sinema in this critical effort.” -Governor Stephen Roe Lewis, Gila River Indian Community. 
“Arizona business leaders have been fortunate to observe the high value associated with making dreams a reality, and we look forward to continuing our partnerships with other sectors that share our passion for, and commitment to, working together to realize the full potential of the Rio Reimagined vision. We’re grateful for Senator Sinema’s leadership on this important project and are eager to continue our work together.” -Neil Guiliano, President & CEO, Greater Phoenix Leadership (GPL) and former Mayor of Tempe, AZ
“The City of Buckeye is grateful to Senator Sinema for her championing of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership Act.  The provisions contained in this bill would assist in Buckeye’s efforts to restore an 18 mile segment of the Gila River by allowing the Rio Reimagined Project into the Urban Waters Federal Partnership and providing important expertise to guide our work.  Senator Sinema’s efforts to preserve and improve water resources in Arizona are greatly appreciated!” -Mayor Eric Orsborn, City of Buckeye 
“I applaud Senator Sinema for working toward continuance of Senator McCain’s legacy, and allowing these conversations to advance in a meaningful way,” said Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord. “Rio Reimagined provides an exciting opportunity for growth and economic development throughout the region.”
“On behalf of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC), I want to thank Senator Sinema and Senator Cornyn for recognizing the need to invest in urban watersheds,” said President Martin Harvier.  “Incorporating tribal and local voices into the revitalization of the Salt River will improve outcomes in our region and ensure collaboration on this important issue.”
“We thank Sen. Sinema for her leadership on the proposal of the bipartisan Urban Water Federal Partnership that will help improve the nation’s water systems, including here in Greater Phoenix through the Rio Reimagined project,” said Chris Camacho, president & CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. “This program streamlines federal resources and investments that help stimulate local economies and our region will be a beneficiary of those outputs.”
“Continuation of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership Program is extremely important, especially to Maricopa County where the Rio Reimagined Project is located. This sustainable revitalization project will create economic opportunity and provide equitable access to beautiful open spaces for the public to enjoy. I am grateful to Senator Sinema for her efforts to continue the vital federal program. “ Chairman Jack Sellers, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.
“Authorizing this partnership for an additional five years is an important recognition of the regional collaboration and cooperation begun by Sen. John McCain and Congressman Ed Pastor. Phoenix, and the other river communities along the 45-miles of the Rio Reimagined project, have been working toward this for decades,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. “Joining the EPA’s Urban Waters Federal Partnership last year renewed our momentum. This re-authorization is equally important, particularly at this time in our history when issues of climate, and of preserving natural assets, is front-and-center in the minds of the people of Phoenix.”
“This legislation is crucial to advancing a sustainable future for the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, a program that demonstrates the value of America’s rivers within metropolitan settings and how the well-being of our citizens is attached to the active stewardship of these irreplaceable watersheds,” said Arizona State University President Michael Crow. “ASU supports this effort and commends the work of Senator Sinema and the Arizona delegation for their focus on championing community waterways within the U.S. EPA’s UWFP. We are especially grateful of the support for the Rio Reimagined in Arizona as the 20th and most recent Urban Waters location and we remain committed to catalyzing local river revitalization and with it, the enhancement of a vibrant economy, and resilient communities along the Salt and Gila River corridor.”
“I applaud Senator Sinema for her leadership on the Rio Reimagined project. The dream of restoring the Salt River ecosystem is shared by every Valley community it touches. The project will help revitalize this natural asset which will bring people together and spark an economic rebirth that will benefit the entire metropolitan area.” -Mayor John Giles, City of Mesa

“Tempe is one of the river corridor communities that is uniquely positioned to reimagine the Rio Salado as a community asset for all. The Urban Waters Federal Partnership will be a resource that can help transform community desires to actionable progress that provides enhanced social, economic, recreational, and environmental services to that community – and region.” -Corey Woods, Mayor of Tempe
“For many years, the Rio Reimagined project has been envisioned as a means to connect the West Valley to the East Valley using the tremendous natural resources along the river corridor in our communities,” said Avondale Mayor Kenn Weise. “We cannot forget the late Senator McCain for the important role he played in shaping this ambitious vision, and the work of local leaders and Arizona State University to bring it to fruition. We are grateful to Senator Sinema for co-sponsoring legislation that will move these plans closer to becoming a reality for the region.”

The bipartisan legislation authorizes the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, which reconnects urban communities with their waterways by improving coordination among federal agencies and collaborating with community-led revitalization efforts to improve the nation’s water systems and promote economic, environmental, and social benefits.
The late Arizona Senator John McCain spearheaded the Rio Reimagined project in 2017 to transform and revitalize the Salt and Gila river systems. With the convening of Arizona State University (ASU) and support of the cities of Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Avondale, Goodyear and Buckeye as well as the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community and the Gila River Indian Community, the project was officially added to the EPA’s Urban Waters Federal Partnership Program in September 2020. Through this broad collaboration, plans are advancing to identify and move projects forward that will take advantage of the metro Phoenix corridor’s rapid growth and reinvigorate communities along the banks of this 45-mile long stretch of the rivers.