The U.S Senate voted Monday to include two Arizona water conservation amendments backed by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to the Fiscal Year 2017 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill.
One amendment asks federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Academy of Sciences to develop a plan to eradicate salt cedar trees in the Lower Colorado River Basin. The non-native trees suck up water, contributing to the region's ongoing drought.
McCain's office said that if the trees were removed successfully, the state would regain approximately 860,000 acre-feet of water. The trees would be replaced with native vegetation more suited to work in harmony with the local ecology.
The second amendment proposes $50 million for water conservation work at Lake Mead and other feeders of the Colorado River.
“For 15 years and counting, Arizona and much of the West has lived under the effects of historic drought,” McCain said. “These amendments support critical efforts to address historic drought by calling on federal agencies to eradicate the salt cedar, which consumes an estimated 200 gallons of water a day, and supporting water conservation projects in Lake Mead. Water is one of the top environmental issues for Arizona in the 21st century and these conservation projects and strategic planning initiatives will help us to ensure future generations are able to enjoy the same quality of life that we enjoy today.”