Agency plans pur­chase, trans­fer of Ari­zona wa­ter rights

Deal cov­ers seven farms near Bull­head City

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - NEVADA & THE WEST -

TUC­SON, Ariz. — The op­er­a­tor of the Cen­tral Ari­zona Project aqueduct sys­tem is plan­ning to buy wa­ter rights in ru­ral north­west­ern Ari­zona to trans­fer the wa­ter for use in the Phoenix and Tuc­son ar­eas.

The agency’s gov­ern­ing board ap­proved the pur­chase agree­ment on Thurs­day to buy seven farms cov­er­ing 2,203 acres near Bull­head City, the Ari­zona Daily Star re­ported. The deal would in­clude the wa­ter rights for the farm­land near the Colorado River.

The deal has met op­po­si­tion from of­fi­cials with the county where the wa­ter is lo­cated. Gary Watson, chair of the Mo­have County Board of Su­per­vi­sors, said they are con­cerned that the wa­ter trans­fer could have neg­a­tive ef­fects on the county’s econ­omy, which is re­liant on the wa­ter.

“The wa­ter you seek to buy and trans­fer is the eco­nomic lifeblood of our ru­ral county in Mo­have Val­ley,” Watson told the agency’s board. “It is our very fu­ture, and you seek to wheel it to three far wealth­ier coun­ties for your own ben­e­fit. Our cit­i­zens de­mand that we pro­tect their in­ter­ests and op­pose this ac­tion by all means.”

Other op­po­nents have said that the deal could set a prece­dent that could lead to more trans­ac­tions with more wa­ter taken away.

Of­fi­cials with the Cen­tral Ari­zona Ground­wa­ter Re­plen­ish­ment District, the part­ner agency that would fa­cil­i­tate the wa­ter trans­fer, said the agency would take steps to en­sure the ru­ral econ­omy would not be harmed. The steps would in­clude lim­it­ing the amount of wa­ter used and leav­ing the rest for on-river use.

Agency board mem­bers have said they would work closely with county of­fi­cials and try to ad­dress their con­cerns. They also plan to de­velop a pol­icy on how to op­er­ate fu­ture land and wa­ter trans­fers.

The agency’s board is set to vote on fi­nal ap­proval in Jan­uary.

If this deal is ap­proved, the wa­ter would not reach cen­tral and south­ern Ari­zona un­til about 2020, agency of­fi­cials said.

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