Gov. Doug Ducey and state legislative leaders say approving a drought contingency plan before the end of January is their No. 1 priority during the annual session starting Monday.
Ducey and the lawmakers spoke Friday at the yearly legislative outlook held by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce.
The contingency plan must pass Arizona's legislature this month or risk having federal water managers impose unspecified measures on Arizona.
Colorado River water supports about 40 million people across the Southwest and millions of acres of farmland in the U.S. and Mexico.
After almost two decades of drought and increasing demand, federal officials say there is a good chance the river's biggest reservoir, Lake Mead behind Hoover Dam, will fall low enough to trigger cutbacks under agreements governing the system.