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Arizona Senate president critical of key requirement set in 1980 Groundwater Management Act

Projections of water shortages have halted development on the fringes of the Phoenix metro area.

And Arizona Senate President Warren Petersen, who is also a real estate broker, is no fan of a regulation at the heart of those projected shortages, a requirement for residential developers in urban areas to show they have a 100-year-water supply.

"You have to have a 100-year water certificate for your house. Why wasn't it 105 years? Why wasn't it 95 years? Do you know what the highest water supply requirement in the nation is outside of Arizona? It's California. And it's 25 years," Petersen said.

But Sarah Porter with the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University says there’s a good reason the 100-year requirement was included in Arizona’s 1980 Groundwater Management Act.

“And the reason Arizona opted for that is that we had an unfortunate history of land swindlers who were selling land to people who didn’t have any water supply," Porter said.

Kathleen Ferris, an architect of what became the Groundwater Act, says current conservation efforts are too new or small to warrant a scrap of the 100-year requirement.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story said Petersen wants to eliminate the provision of Arizona's Groundwater Management Act that requires residential developers in urban areas to prove they have a 100-year-water supply. Petersen clarified that he is merely criticizing the requirement, not calling to eliminate it.

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Jill Ryan joined KJZZ in 2020 as a morning reporter, and she is currently a field correspondent and Morning Edition producer.