Sinema Secures Arizona Priorities in Senate Water Infrastructure Bill

May 6, 2020

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema secured a number of Arizona priorities in the Senate’s America’s Water Infrastructure Act, which passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today.
“Arizona’s future depends on securing and strengthening our water supply. Working across the aisle and with local stakeholders, I’m proud to have secured in this bill critical priorities that will restore our waterways, address drought conditions, fuel jobs, and expand opportunity across Arizona,” said Sinema.  
Sinema secured the following priorities for Arizona in the Senate’s America’s Water Infrastructure Act:

  • Flood Mitigation along Tonto Creek: Following Kyrsten’s urging in February, the bill directs the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a feasibility study for flood risk management in Tonto Creek, AZ. This is the first step to securing Army Corps funding to help either construct a Tonto Creek bridge, or take other steps to mitigate the flooding risk along Tonto Creek. 
  • Rio de Flag Completion: Earlier this year, Kyrsten secured funding for the Rio de Flag project, and the America’s Water Infrastructure Act further supports the project by directing Army Corps to expedite the completion of the project.
  • Removal of Salt Cedars to Improve Arizona’s Water Supply: For decades, invasive salt cedar trees have depleted Arizona’s precious water resources, crowded out native plants, increased flood risks, and created a greater fire risk for Arizona communities, especially in Buckeye and other communities along the Gila River. The bill authorizes the US Fish and Wildlife Service to spend up to $10 million each year to remove and replace invasive plant species, prioritizing salt cedars, in riparian areas in the Lower Colorado River Basin. This language is inspired by Kyrsten’s DRIP Act, which authorizes a similar $10 million pilot program.
  • Construction of the Little Colorado River Levee Project: Following Kyrsten’s urging, the bill authorizes the Army Corps to begin construction on the Winslow Levee project outside the City of Winslow in Navajo County. Congressional authorization is needed before work can begin on this project. This project will significantly reduce the risk of flooding in Winslow, and protect the BNSF Southern Transcon rail line (which is one of the busiest rail lines in the country).
  • Completion of Flood Control Study for Lower Santa Cruz River: Following Kyrsten’s urging, the bill directs the Army Corps to expedite the completion of its flood control study for the Lower Santa Cruz river basin in Pinal County. This river basin currently has no flood control system in place, leaving the City of Maricopa, the Gila River Indian Community, and the surrounding farmland at risk of severe flooding. Army Corps is currently working with stakeholders to finalize a flood control plan, and the bill encourages Army Corps to move expeditiously to finalize its flood control plan.   

Sinema has long worked to advance commonsense solutions to secure Arizona’s water future. Recently, Sinema helped secure $142,964 from the Bureau of Reclamation for a project to provide clean water to communities in the Navajo Nation. Last year, Sinema introduced the DRIP Act, which equips communities in Arizona, and across the country, to address drought conditions and strengthen water supplies. Additionally, Sinema helped get the Drought Contingency Plan across the finish line in the Senate. Sinema also cosponsored the bipartisan Drought Resiliency and Water Supply Infrastructure Act, which allows Arizona cities, tribes, and water providers access to critical funding to secure the state’s water future.