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Arizona’s new budget scales back water projects such as desalination

Before he left office, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey called for aggressive investment in water augmentation projects such as desalination, and the state committed a billion dollars in funding over three years toward that goal.

But Arizona’s new budget will scale back those efforts.

For more than three decades, the Water Infrastructure Financing Authority has helped Arizona communities with water delivery systems.

Lawmakers turned to the agency to lead augmentation efforts. But the new budget redistributes some of the funds set aside under Ducey for other water programs, like wells and levees.

Chelsea McGuire, a spokeswoman for the agency, said it sends a signal that the state is not committed to water augmentation.

"And now it’s going to make it even harder for us to accomplish that mission, one because we have fewer funds to do it, but two, because we have to sort of have to overcome that picture, or that signal that maybe we weren’t as serious about this as we thought," McGuire said.

The agency will still receive $189 million to continue looking for new water sources.

Ron Dungan has lived in Arizona for more than 35 years. He has worked as a reporter, construction worker, copy editor, designer and freelance writer. He's a graduate of the University of Iowa, where he was a member of the undergraduate Writers’ Workshop, and has a master’s in history from Arizona State University.Dungan was an outdoors reporter and member of the storyteller team at the Arizona Republic, where he won several awards, and was a contributor on a border project that won the 2018 Pulitzer for explanatory reporting.When not working, Dungan enjoys books, gardening, hanging out with his German shorthaired pointer, backpacking and fly-fishing. He's a fan of the Arizona Cardinals and Iowa Hawkeyes.