Arizona leaders meet with EPA over plans to revitalize stretches of Salt and Gila Rivers in the Valley

On Sept. 17, a meeting was held with Sen. Mark Kelly, Rep. Greg Stanton, and other elected officials to discuss a project called "Rio Reimagined."

The project was set up by late Sen. John McCain to revitalize a 58-mile stretch along the Salt and Gila Rivers that run throughout the Valley. The Valley-wide project runs through six cities and two tribal communities, and it has led to the development of the Tempe Town Lake.

The Tempe Town Lake has brought activities, jobs and housing near the area, but there is so much more to be done, and that was the point of the meeting on Friday.

In 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave the project special designation under the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, which helps pave the way for additional grants, as well as help to coordinate and collaborate with federal agencies, local leaders, and community organizations.

During the meeting, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Tempe Mayor Corey Woods took part in a discussion along with EPA Administrator Michael Regan, discussing federal infrastructure investments in the next years.

Meanwhile, Sen. Kelly and Rep. Stanton briefly discussed how important the project is for the area's future.

"As we look towards the future, we want one where there is more equity, where we are lifting up and empowering communities, especially along this river that's been neglected for too many years," said Sen. Kelly.

"It is one of the most consequential projects in the State of Arizona today: take meaningful action to protect our water supply, build resilient infrastructure, and spur economic growth. That's what Rio Reimagined is all about," said Rep. Stanton.

There are efforts to continue work that has already been underway, such as clearing invasive plants that have been choking up the Gila River flow in the far West Valley.

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