A U.S. House version of S. 3308, a bill that would allow Colorado River Indian tribes to lease a portion of its federal Colorado River water allocation, has been approved in a House floor vote. Bedroom. Arizona District 3 Congressman Raul Grijalva introduced the House legislation as part of a broader drought relief bill. He awaits his passage to the Senate. It would then go to President Biden for his signature.
According to the tribes, the legislation would provide Arizona with “critical drought relief while respecting the water rights of the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRITs).”
Congressman Grijalva, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, included the Colorado River Indian Tribes Water Resilience Act of 2021 in natural resources drought and wildfire legislation from the room.
Last year, Sen. Mark Kelly introduced S.3308, a bill co-sponsored by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema that would give CRIT the power to lease a portion of its Arizona allocation for off-reservation use in Arizona.
Since the legislation was tabled and following feedback from a Senate hearing on Indian Affairs in March 2021, CRIT agreed to several changes that are reflected in the House bill. The House legislation explicitly authorizes CRIT water conservation and specifies that the tribe may receive fair market value for its water if it is used for conservation purposes.
CRIT President Amelia Flores said, “We thank Congresswoman Grijalva for advancing this much-needed legislation. As Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, he shares our respect for the Colorado River and our commitment to saving river life. He also understands that Arizona needs drought help now.
CRIT’s water leases will not increase overall water use on the Colorado River because, under the law, CRIT is only able to supply that water that they have conserved, presumably by fallowing agricultural land. Revenue from conservation, rental and storage agreements will allow CRIT to invest in more efficient farming techniques and improve its aging water distribution system. Revenue will also help provide much-needed government services to tribal members, according to CRIT.
Legislation and implementing agreements ensure that CRIT will maintain enough water for use on the reserve to meet the needs of its community and farmers while continuing to provide water to help maintain water levels. water in Lake Mead. CRIT has an enacted water right to divert 719,248 acre-feet per year to service land in Arizona and California, which is among the oldest rights in the basin.
Tribal water leasing is a common practice. Congress has authorized 24 tribes to lease water to third parties off the reservation, including 17 in the Colorado River Basin.
The legislation was drafted in conjunction with the Arizona Department of Water Resources, the United States, and the Colorado River Indian Tribes. It is supported by water users including the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, SRP, City of Phoenix, Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, environmental groups (including Environmental Defense Fund, Audubon Society and American Rivers), and is consistent with the principles adopted by the National Congress of American Indians.