Sinema Introduces Bill Supporting Rio Reimagined Project

Mar 15, 2023

Continuing Senator John McCain’s legacy, Sinema introduces the Urban Waters Federal Partnership Act to strengthen Arizona’s water future

WASHINGTON – Continuing the late Arizona Senator John McCain’s legacy, Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema introduced the Urban Waters Federal Partnership Act to support the Rio Reimagined Project by authorizing the Urban Waters Federal Partnership program. This legislation is also supported by fellow Arizona Senator Mark Kelly and Republican Senator John Cornyn (Texas).
“I’m proud to continue Senator McCain’s legacy in supporting the Rio Reimagined Project to restore and strengthen Arizona’s water future,” said Sinema.
“Our bipartisan legislation continues the leadership of the late Senator John McCain on this critical project that will help protect Arizona’s precious water resources and increase economic development. I’ll keep working with Republicans and Democrats to get it across the finish line,” said Kelly who serves on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. 
“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,” said Governor Stephen Roe Lewis, Gila River Indian Community.
“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 Martin Harvier, President of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. “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.”

“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,” said John Giles, Mayor of Mesa.
“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!” said 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 Joe Pizzillo, Mayor of Goodyear. “Rio Reimagined provides an exciting opportunity for growth and economic development throughout the region.”
“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.”

“Rio Reimagined and the vision brought forward by Congressman Pastor and Senator McCain is one step closer to reality with this legislation to continue the Urban Waters Federal Partnership Program. Valley Partnership thanks Senator Sinema for her leadership on this important Arizona project. The communities along the 45-miles of the Rio Reimagined project are all part of the shared vision to enhance the future economic and environmental vitality of the region,” said Cheryl Lombard, President & CEO of Valley Partnership.
“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,” said Neil Guiliano, President & CEO of Greater Phoenix Leadership and former Mayor of Tempe.
“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.”

“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 and Chair of the Maricopa Association of Governments 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.”

“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 communities along the 45-miles of this project, have been working for decades to capitalize on the economic development and environmental potential of Rio Reimagined,” 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 as issues of climate change, and of preserving our beautiful natural ecosystems, are front-and-center in the minds of the people of Phoenix.”
“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,” said Corey Woods, Mayor of Tempe.
“The National Audubon Society appreciates Senator Sinema’s introduction of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership Act. This legislation will boost collaboration with Federal agencies involved in planning and implementing elements of Rio Reimagined, envisioned as a 58-mile stretch of vibrant urban riverfront encompassing portions of the Salt and Gila Rivers. The Rio Salado Audubon Center sits on the south bank of a 600-acre restored stretch of the Salt River (Rio Salado). Habitat restoration, community-led economic development, flood control, and open space recreational planning are just a few of the beneficial outcomes from this legislation. We look forward to continuing to work with Senator Sinema on these important water issues,” said Haley Paul, Arizona Policy Director of the National Audubon Society
The Rio Reimagined Project was created to restore and strengthen more than 55 miles along the Salt River and Gila River, both of which go through Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Avondale, Goodyear, and Buckeye – as well as the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community and the Gila River Indian Community.
Sinema’s Urban Waters Federal Partnership Act provides federal staffing support to ensure coordination between the federal government and local communities to lead the Rio Reimagined Project and to restore and strengthen the water along the Salt River and Gila River. The bill would reconnect urban communities, particularly those overburdened or economically impacted, with their waterways by improving coordination among federal agencies.
Last year, Sinema and U.S. Interior Department Secretary Deb Haaland spoke with Arizonans about the Rio Reimagined Project and how the health and safety of Arizona communities depend on clean and maintainable water. The Senator discussed how her bipartisan infrastructure law strengthens the river corridor through the Rio Reimagined Project and how it makes $15 billion investment for lead replacement and $10 billion to address forever chemicals contamination.
In the Inflation Reduction law, Sinema ensured the American West received $4 billion in drought resiliency to strengthen Arizona’s water future.