Arizona's water supply is getting a boost from elected officials, setting aside $1.1 billion for protecting the state's water and natural resources in the recent spending plan.
Rural Arizonans are hoping it helps them.
80% of the state's groundwater supply remains unregulated. Mohave County Supervisor Travis Lingenfelter says it's "still the Wild West when it comes to water."
"We're giving away our water and we can do better," adds Haley Paul with the National Audubon Society.
As of now, Lingenfelter says nothing legally can be done to fix it.
"There's no tool right now existing that gives us any sort of way to responsibly bring everybody together to come up with a plan to responsibly manage the groundwater basin so that it remains healthy for everybody that needs to use it," he states.
He wants the money set aside for water to include protections and projects for the existing groundwater supply.
According to Paul, the Arizona Department of Water Resources says there are three pillars that would help ensure Arizona's water security: conservation, augmentation, and an appropriate regulatory framework "so that rural Arizona has the tools to protect the water supply."
"We're calling on the legislature to act in 2022 on this rural groundwater issue because the problem isn't going away," Lingenfelter states. "It's only going to get worse."