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Arizona Governor Said No Need To Cut Back On Water-Heavy Cotton Production

The Gila River Indian community will start storing more water underground to help combat the ongoing drought.

Their new aquifer recharge project is part of the state’s drought contingency plan — as the tribe is giving part of its Colorado River water allocation to the state.

Experts say even with these changes, Arizona will have to cut water use drastically. Nearly 70 percent of all water used in the state goes to agriculture.

Gov. Doug Ducey says he sees no reason for farmers to give up growing cotton in the desert.

“I want to leave the discussion on the specifics on the actual subject matter experts but Arizona's been a proud cotton state in the past and I believe we can be one going into the future as well," he said.

Cotton uses six times as much water as lettuce. There is no specific language in the state’s drought contingency plan that addresses conservation, but Ducey has formed an executive council "to analyze and recommend opportunities for water conservation.”

The council's first report is expected in July 2020.

Claire Caulfield was a reporter and Morning Edition producer at KJZZ from 2015 to 2019.