Governor Ducey Signs Historic Water Protection Legislation

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PHOENIX (May 5, 2021) — Governor Doug Ducey today signed water protection legislation to ensure clean water in nearly 800 Arizona streams, lakes as well as rivers. These are critical for drinking, fishing and recreation. 

“Living in the desert, the value of water is something we in Arizona know well. We have taken great steps to protect it, including the Groundwater Management Act and the Drought Contingency Plan,” said Governor Ducey. “But just having water is not enough. We need to ensure our water supplies are clean and safe. That’s why I signed into law another landmark Arizona water protection bill — the Surface Water Protection Program. This provides protections for nearly 800 Arizona streams, lakes, and rivers.”

House Bill (HB) 2691 implements the Arizona Surface Water Protection Program by creating a list of rivers, streams, in addition to lakes used for drinking, recreation and fishing that are protected from harmful discharge of any pollutant.

Specifically, the water protection legislation: 

  • Preserves important water quality safeguards as well as provides clarity and consistency to the regulated community;
  • Promotes transparency by providing a defined list of protected Arizona waters. A permitting program will be protecting these waterways. Also, Geographic Information System map functionality will be available on the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) website; and
  • Provides an opportunity to develop meaningful and impactful best management practices that will protect these important waterways.

“This legislation protects and regulates discharges into Arizona surface waters that are used for drinking water sources, fishing, swimming and other recreational activities,” said Representative Gail Griffin. Griffin sponsored the legislation, of Legislative District 14. “We don’t need to rely on the federal government to tell us how to regulate our waters. We have taken this important responsibility. It requires best management practices to ensure that discharges do not cause violations in water quality standards.”

“With this legislation Arizona will protect its most important waters that are not currently regulated by the federal government in a streamlined and locally responsive way,” said ADEQ Director Misael Cabrera.

Governor Ducey on the EPA’s Improvement of the Clean Water Act

Governor Ducey applauded the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s 2020 decision to improve the federal Clean Water Act. He committed that Arizona welcomes the need to protect state surface waters. Unlike previous federal efforts to regulate every dry ditch in the desert, Arizona focused on protecting actual waters with tools specific to Arizona.  

As Governor Ducey wrote on Inauguration Day, Washington, D.C. should take note of what is happening in the states across the country. When it comes to protecting water, Arizona is leading by example.

The first Arizona-specific water quality protection bill enacted since the Aquifer Protection Permit program in 1991 is HB 2691. Together, these two programs will serve to protect the quality of both Arizona’s surface and groundwater resources.

More information on the Surface Water Protection Program, including the draft list of protected waters is available on ADEQ’s website.


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