O’Halleran Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Improve Arizona Drought Conditions, Water Supply

November 14, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), along with Congressman David Schweikert (AZ-06) introduced the bipartisan Drought Relief Through Innovative Projects (DRIP) Act, legislation to address drought conditions and protect the water supply of the southwest by removing and replacing invasive, non-native salt cedars.

“Arizona is highly prone to drought and wildfires that have devastating effects on communities throughout our state and in the First Congressional District. Invasive salt cedars exacerbate these conditions,” said Rep. O’Halleran. “I am proud to sponsor this bipartisan legislation to help alleviate the risks posed by these nonnative plants, mitigate associated flooding hazards, and protect our wildlife and natural resources.”

The DRIP Act establishes a $10 million annual grant program that would alleviate the environmental risks posed by salt cedars and similar nonnative plants by setting up removal and replacement projects and implementing ongoing maintenance and monitoring operations for affected areas.

“This commonsense bill will improve drought conditions and protect our water supply, allowing more water to remain in streams,” continued O’Halleran. “Water is the lifeblood of the southwest; we must do everything we can to preserve our already limited resources.”

The legislation also aims to fund restoration projects that will reduce flood risk, improve hydrology, and protect habitats for native fish and wildlife.

“The Desert Southwest knows the importance of water conservation and working to ensure our resources are protected,” said Rep. Schweikert. “By implementing innovative practices to combat drought conditions, we are taking the right step into the technology revolution surrounding us.  I am pleased to see this bill retain bipartisan support from Members and I hope we are able to help get this across the finish line this Congress.”

Senate companion legislation was introduced today by Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and John Cornyn (R-TX).

“Arizona’s future depends on securing our water supply. Our legislation ensures Arizona has the resources to address drought conditions and restore our waterways so we can continue expanding opportunities across our state,” said Sinema.

An advocate for Arizona water conservation since his time in the state legislature, Rep. O’Halleran cosponsored and helped pass the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan earlier this year. O’Halleran also penned an op-ed about the importance of addressing drought conditions throughout the Southwest.