We all know Water is Life. This has been a great week for us on the water front. Tucson participated in the Wyland Water Challenge and won. This was a “friendly” competition between cities across our country to see who can be the most “water-wise”. Participants took a pledge to take clear action to conserve water. It is no surprise to me that Tucson won. I’d like to thank all of our residents who participated as well as the Mayors and all of the other cities as well. We all win when it comes to saving water.
You can read more below about the agreement I was able to sign this week that leaves up to 110,000 acre feet of water which will help protect the Colorado River and Lake Mead. This is an important step in conservation AND we need to continue to do more. I’d especially like to thank Gila River Indian Community Governor Stephen Roe Lewis for coming down to Tucson to be a part of our celebration. It is going to take regional collaborations across Arizona and the Southwest to protect the future of the Colorado River and Lake Mead.
Tucsonans are already great at water conservation. Even so, I encourage each of us to take a look at how we are using water in our homes and workplaces and find even more ways to save. All of our efforts make a difference.
Mayor Romero Signs Agreement to Reduce Tucson’s Water Allocation, Protect the Future of the Colorado River and Lake Mead
The City of Tucson has taken another important step to protect the Colorado River and Lake Mead.
On Wednesday, I signed a voluntary conservation agreement to reduce Tucson’s water allocations from the Colorado River by up to 110,000 acre feet through 2025.
I was joined by Tucson Water Director, John Kmiec, Bureau of Reclamation Deputy Commissioner Michael Brain at City Hall, Gila River Indian Community Governor Stephen Roe Lewis, and leaders from the Central Arizona Project, the Metro Water Improvement District, and others. It is through these regional collaborations that we are preserving our precious water resources.
Last August, when the Bureau of Reclamation was prepared to declare deep cuts, I announced that Tucson was ready to leave up to 60,000 acre-feet of our Colorado River water in Lake Mead in support of a System Conservation Agreement. I made this announcement in partnership with Gov. Lewis of the Gila River Indian Community, urging other states to do their part. It is our obligation not just to our residents, but to future generations – to act now and to act boldly.
This week Arizona, California, and Nevada reached an agreement to conserve 3 million acre feet of water over the next few years. This is a step in the right direction when it comes to taking urgent action to protect the Colorado River system. And we need to immediately shift our focus to the future of the Colorado River post 2026.
Meanwhile, this week in Tucson, Mayor and Council voted to revise the definition of ‘Summer’ and ‘Winter’ for the purpose of our water rates. As good stewards of the Sonoran Desert, our water management strategies have to be sensitive to water conservation at every level.
Above: Mayor Romero with Tucson Water Director John Kmiec (left) and Bureau of Reclamation Deputy Commissioner Michael Brain (right) at Wednesday’s signing.
Above: Mayor Romero with Gila River Indian Community Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis. In 2022, Mayor Romero and Gov. Lewis announced a joint effort to conserve Colorado River water.
Wins for Tucson in Governor Hobbs’ First State Budget
The Council and I work closely with the state legislature and our Governor to advocate for the needs of Tucson. The bipartisan budget that was passed on May 10th has some great news for Tucson.
The Housing Trust Fund is managed by the Arizona Department of Housing. They will receive $150 million dollars in this budget. The Housing Trust Fund can be an additional source of funding to make sure that more affordable housing units are available in more places. I advocated for additional funding for this fund because we have our Housing Affordability Strategy for Tucson and are actively seeking ways to fund the projects we are working on.
There was also $15 million dollars included to help the City of Tucson build the multi-modal Street Bridge. This bridge will address a critical infrastructure need in a fast-growing part of our city. I am especially grateful to Minority Leader Andrés Cano and our whole delegation for their advocacy on our behalf.
There was also $60 million in funding for the unsheltered. We are interested in learning more about how these funds can be used, but, the need for this funding is clear. I appreciated Governor Hobbs and the state legislature for being good partners to us.
Celebrating the Opening of City of Tucson Pools
Mayor Romero and Ward 4 Councilmember Nikki Lee at the opening of the new water slide at Freedom Park Pool. This new water slide and other splash pads and park investments were made possible thanks to Tucson voters who helped pass Prop 407 which is investing $225M to improve our city parks and connections.
Sunday marks the beginning of our summer pool schedule and aquatics programs! We are so excited that Tucson will have 20 pools open this summer for us all to enjoy.
Last summer, the City was not able to open some of our pools because of staffing shortages or deferred maintenance. We knew we needed to do better. So, Mayor and Council gave direction to Parks and Rec Director, Lara Hamwey and she went to work. Congrats to Director Hamwey and the whole Parks and Rec team for hiring over 250 lifeguards.
Pools are a critical part of our city infrastructure to help residents beat the heat during the hot summer months. The City of Tucson Aquatics Department offers swim lessons, adaptive swim opportunities, water aerobics classes, and even competitive swim experiences.
Click HERE to register for an activity by clicking on the “Activity Registration” tab and picking from any of the drop down categories.
Neighborhood Spotlight: My Visit to a University of Arizona Civic Engagement Class
By: Eryck Garcia
Community Engagement Advisor
In the spirit of graduation week, I want to highlight my recent visit to University of Arizona Instructor, Carrie Hollman’s course on Service Learning. This past month thousands of students in Tucson, ranging from kindergarten to grad-school, celebrated their promotions or graduations—including myself!
Our office was invited to give a presentation on how local government works, how students can become more civically engaged, and how they can advocate on issues that are important to them.
Students were surprised to learn about the many Boards and Commissions we have established in the City of Tucson. I explained that commission members are volunteers and are appointed by Mayor and Council to share their knowledge in different areas like affordable housing, climate and sustainability, public safety, food security, disability issues, LGBTQ + issues, and more. These Boards and Commissions provide great opportunities for all community members to participate in local government. I encourage you all to look over the commission vacancies and see what you may be interested in applying to!
I was inspired to see how interested students were in the work of Mayor and Council, it took me back to my time as an intern in the office. We then discussed the flow of Mayor and Council meetings and what the differences are between study session and regular session. Study session is where policy is discussed and created among the elected officials with city staff. After a couple of hours of discussion, we move into the regular agenda where students can participate in call to the audience and hear and learn about events happening around the City of Tucson. You can watch and keep up with previous and upcoming meetings on YouTube. Students were excited to learn about Call to the Audience, a way they can directly advocate on issues that affect them like access to fare free transit.
The students also wanted to know what neighborhood associations they live in and how they can get involved with tree plantings, block parties and resources for street repair.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to talk with Sage, Andrew, Joseph, Mila, Greg, Anna and the rest of their classmates!
If you are interested in learning more about the City resources that were discussed during this visit the links below: