How Arizona Water Rights Impact Conservation Efforts

Stream in Cottonwood Canyon, Sedona, Arizona

Water conservation is a big part of life in Arizona. Aside from ideal weather conditions, Arizona also has numerous natural resources that support agriculture, such as rivers and groundwater. 

Despite its natural limitations, Arizona has maintained its water resources through its growth and development. But when they saw how limited the water supply was in the area, the inhabitants, with the help of policymakers, planned their actions and lived within their means. 

Governor Doug Ducey recently signed a bill that updates how Arizona interprets its water policy. It allows farmers and ranchers to abandon their water rights without fear of losing them voluntarily. Learn how this bill impacts the conservation efforts of Arizona residents. 

Stream in Cottonwood Canyon, Sedona, Arizona

Water Rights In Arizona  

Arizona’s historic ‘use it or lose it’ water policy has recently been updated by legislation approved by Governor Ducey. Good news for Arizonans, the state’s economy, and our natural resources. As a result of HB2056, landowners and ranchers who have water rights no longer worry about their water being forfeited or abandoned when they leave their water in a stream. That may seem obvious, but it’s a significant departure in how the state has dealt with Arizona water rights in recent years. 

Importance Of Water Rights 

The laws intended that everybody who had water rights exercised them. They could pass them on through generations. In Arizona, for instance, people could lose their rights if they fail to use water for five years in a row. This is a commonly used phrase that refers to the abandonment of a farm. It forces landowners to use more than they need to maintain the land.  

It used to be that a policy that encouraged people to conserve water was misguided. ‘Use it or lose it’ has been replaced with a clause encouraging water consumers to take advantage of innovative conservation solutions. According to this policy, water conservation and efficient usage should be encouraged, not punished.   

How The Law Doesn’t Apply To Conservation Efforts 

Water conservation is seen by many as a sign of modernity. Recycling and environmental protection go hand in hand with water conservation in their thinking. All three are seen as relatively contemporary responses to the circumstances of the late twentieth century. 

However, water conservation has a history. Arizonans have been practicing water conservation for a long time. Early prospectors and pioneers may have practiced water conservation in a manner that differs from how it’s generally defined. Today, water conservationists would be impressed and inspired by early reports of pioneers’ attempts to deal with water shortage.  

The new law helps resolve some of the complex issues surrounding water use in Arizona. Under the state’s forfeiture law, some surface water rights holders may forfeit their rights after five years of non-use. A new policy in Arizona allows individuals to voluntarily divert less water from streams to their property through conservation measures. 

The Arizona Department of Water Resources now permits private property owners to submit water conservation plans and reduce the amount of riverwater diverted onto their land via efficiency and conservation measures, according to a new regulation introduced by Rep. Gail Griffin. This may be done without fear of losing their water rights.

Working Together For Water Solutions 

Water conservation will be bolstered. As a result, it’s allowing the state’s rivers to flow more freely, as well as freeing up water resources for other purposes. Thus, the legislation will help boost water conservation and free up water supplies for other uses. It’s also beneficial for local businesses. 

Many farmers and ranchers have shown an interest in becoming part of the solution. According to the new law, they may now operate more freely and contribute to the health of rivers and waterways while doing so without jeopardizing their businesses or livelihoods. 

Working together has been a critical element in developing practical and resilient solutions to address the water challenges of the day. The development of policies and solutions that are long-lasting and capable of meeting today’s water concerns has relied heavily on cooperation and consensus building in the water sector. 

The Drought Contingency Plan as a result of this collaboration. For the Drought Contingency Plan to pass, they were essential. Even in these difficult and terrible times, the passing of HB2056 shows that water can be a political winner. This bill, which received unanimous approval from the Legislature, shows how important it is for communities and farmers to access clean and reliable water. 


You can all agree on the need for clean and dependable water. This bill’s unanimous passage in the state legislature indicates that Arizona residents and people concerned can work together to achieve it. This is good news, but they can’t let their guard down. They need to keep the momentum going and keep Arizona’s water policy up to date to meet today’s requirements and reality.  

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.