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Trump Administration and Partners Designate Arizona’s Rio Salado as the 20th Urban Waters Federal Partnership Project

EPA and federal partners will provide technical assistance and capacity-building opportunities to help revitalize the waters and community

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EPA Press Office (

Tempe, Ariz. (September 1, 2020) — Today, at an event hosted by Arizona State University, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler with Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ), U.S. Congressman Paul Gosar (AZ-04), and other federal, state and local partners commemorated the designation of the Rio Reimagined-Rio Salado Project in Arizona as the 20th Urban Waters Federal Partnership (UWFP) location. With this designation, federal, local and tribal partners will work together to improve surface water quality and foster a connection between the river and residents of the surrounding area—helping to strengthen communities, promote economic development and protect the river ecosystem as a valued natural and cultural asset.

“EPA understands the importance of investing in projects that better connects people and communities to their water resources,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Selecting the Rio Reimagined project will bring a strong and sustained federal focus to this waterway and the people it serves, which in turn will foster many great environmental and economic benefits.”

The Department of the Interior plays a tremendously important role in urban and natural landscapes across all 50 states of our great nation,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt. “I am delighted to join in celebrating the designation of the Rio Salado as the location of the 20th Urban Waters Federal Partnership.”

“Water is life. The importance of this program to Arizona and the Phoenix area cannot be understated and today’s announcement on Rio Reimagined is a step in the right direction in building partnerships on water. In Arizona and much of the West, water is often about fighting over rights and access, instead of fighting, today we can come together today to work to together to make both of those issues better. EPA’s leadership to bring this coalition together shows that this leadership knows how to find solutions and making progress possible for the people of Arizona,” said Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-AZ).

“The Urban Waters Federal Partnership designation will help promote enhanced water quality and access, reconnect communities to their waterways, and foster sustainable water stewardship and management,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “This represents a major step forward toward EPA’s urban waterways goals in the Pacific Southwest region.”

“The USDA Forest Service, through our contributions to the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, is proud to work alongside communities in the Rio Reimagined project to accomplish their economic and environmental goals,” said Vicki Christiansen, Chief of the USDA Forest Service. “We are committed to sustaining our nation’s forests, grasslands and watersheds through such partnerships that engage people directly in shared stewardship of their natural resources.”

“ASU has long championed the role that waterways can play in invigorating the economy, recreational options and overall quality of life in a region,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “We are proud to lead this ambitious endeavor to foster transformational connectivity and enhance Arizona’s natural beauty, sustainability, health and prosperity. The UWFP will empower river communities with the improved capacity, resources and expertise to yield success.”

“The Valley of the Sun exists because of Native American tribes who ingeniously transported water across the valley floor through an innovative canal system,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. “The river helped to create our community and we are thrilled that with this influx of resources, we can reinvigorate this area which runs through six cities and two tribal communities.”

Spearheaded by Arizona State University, the Rio Reimagined-Rio Salado project spans 58 miles of the Lower Salt and Gila Rivers, including six cities and two Native American communities in the metro Phoenix area. Local, federal and tribal partners will work collaboratively to achieve economic, environmental, health, wellness and recreation goals for the benefit of community residents. The designation will result in continued Federal assistance through access to learning network resources, information on funding opportunities, and technical assistance from federal partners. Inclusion in the UWFP will support existing efforts by the eight river communities and support these stakeholders in restoring their waterways in a way that creates diverse benefits for all.

For more information on the Rio Reimagined project:

For more information on the UWFP visit the Urban Waters website:


The Urban Waters Federal Partnership is a coalition of fifteen federal agencies working collaboratively to restore waterways and their environments, boost recreation, help local economies, create jobs and protect Americans’ health. Since 2011, federal partners have worked collectively in 19 locations across the country to more effectively leverage and coordinate federal resources, strengthen the capacity of local partners, and facilitate the sharing of best practices to revitalize waterways. Each partnership location is driven by local needs and priorities, and many locations have supported projects in green infrastructure, education and outreach, river access improvement and water quality monitoring. All locations work actively with partners to implement collaborative solutions to complex water problems.