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Mon, Feb. 17

Rainwater harvesting bill turns into study committee

The House Agriculture and Water Committee voted Wednesday to create a committee to study the feasibility of large-scale water harvesting in Arizona.

The committee injected a strike-everything amendment on Senate Bill 1522 to create the committee.

The bill originally would have created a new fourth type of water right called harvested rainwater so large-scale rainwater harvesting projects could receive groundwater use credits.

Sen. Steve Pierce of rural Prescott is sponsoring the bill, while Reps. Andy Tobin of Paulden and Karen Fann of Prescott are co-sponsors.

House Water and Ag Committee Chair Russell Jones, R-Yuma, said he wouldn't let the bill get a hearing without changing its aim to a study committee. He said the idea needs more discussion between stakeholders. The committee approved the study committee on a 5-2 vote.

The Arizona Department of Water Resources also wanted a study committee.

The full House still needs to vote on the bill.

The study committee would consist of 10 members of the House and Senate alongside 15 members representing a wide variety of stakeholders, from environmental to industrial water users.

The committee would study issues relating to rainwater harvesting, including potential impacts to surface water rights and downstream users. It also would analyze potential impacts to groundwater management.

The committee report would be due on Dec. 15, 2012.

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