Update: Robert Van Hofwegen statements on water issues

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Arizona Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke previously joined us on Arizona Horizon to talk about expanding an Active Management Area for water regulation to the Gila Bend area.

The Paloma Irrigation and Drainage District (PIDD) has operated for over 100 years using primarily manual controls to deliver water to their water users. PIDD operates and maintains 99 miles of irrigation ditches and canals, which represents approximately 60% of the agriculture acres in Gila Bend.

To tell us more, we invited Robert Van Hofwegen, the District Manager of Paloma Irrigation and Drainage District, to the show.

According to Van Hofwegen, a major contributor to the decline in the Gila Bend Basin is the 25 year drought. “You cannot look at a 20 year period in a 25 year drought and expect to not see anything but bad numbers,” he said.

Van Hofwegen explained he doesn’t see the need for the implementation of an Active Management Area yet, but he believes that reasonable regulation is needed.

“Active Management Areas were designed with a significant source of surface water that doesn’t pertain to most of the rural basins in Arizona. We don’t have a renewable river supply like the Phoenix area does; that is why were supporting Senate Bill 1221,” said Van Hofwegen.

What is SB-1221?

The bill establishes goals for active Basin Management Areas, trying to maintain a balance between economic interests, groundwater preservation, and sustainable use. It includes goals such as decreasing aquifer depletion, ensuring water access, and enhancing water recharge and reuse, all while protecting approved water rights.The bill also includes $40 million for water conservation in BMAs and establishes an active basin management council to oversee water management plans and give grants.

“It’s locally driven, and it’s flexible; it allows for solutions,” said Van Hofwegen.

Robert Van Hofwegen, District Manager, Paloma Irrigation and Drainage District

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