Mohave County resists water rights transfer to Central Arizona Project
KINGMAN – Central Arizona Project’s proposed purchase of farms within the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District has raised a few eyebrows among local officials.
Mohave County Assessor Jeanne Kentch sent a Nov. 28 letter to the Central Arizona Water Conservation District explaining the county’s opposition to the permanent transfer of any Colorado River water rights and allocations dedicated to the irrigation and drainage district.
CAP seeks to transfer 5,538 acre-feet of water a year from the district.
Kentch was invited to a meeting to discuss an agreement that would allow CAP to pay the Mohave County for water services, since CAP would be exempt from paying a property tax.
Mohave County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution earlier this year opposing the water rights transfer, she noted. Board Chairman Gary Watson went before the CAP board in October to express the county’s opposition to the water purchase and transfer.
“We view this proposed contract, and its transfer of any Colorado River water, or any allocations to such water, from Mohave County to central Arizona as part of a continual attack on the water rights and economy of rural Arizona,” Kentch stated in the letter to Perri Benemelis, water supply manager for CAP.
Although Kingman sold its Colorado River water rights years ago because of the expense to pipe the water here, county officials still regard the river allocations as paramount to economic development.
Gene Bishop, cochairman of Citizens for Progress, appealed to Gov. Doug Ducey, expressing community opposition to the proposed water purchase and transfer in a Dec. 6 letter.
Moving limited water resources supporting one area of Arizona to another should not be the “game plan” of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District for future water supply, Bishop said.
“Literally robbing Peter to pay Paul is not a fair plan to manage the water shortage in one area at the expense of another area with far less political cover power and protection and little, if any, representation,” he stated in his letter.
Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District’s allocation of Colorado River water was requested by the state to be reserved for municipal and industrial uses along the river, Bishop added.
“Also, as a matter of public policy, we do not support and will oppose by all means a three-county conservation district using its superior taxing power to provide $34 million in funds to buy and divert water from rural Arizona county,” the citizens group leader said.
Mohave County has no elected officials on the Central Arizona Water Conservation District board.
On Tuesday, City Councilmember Travis Lingenfelter pulled his request to establish a commission on water recharge and sustainability, directing staff to set up a work session at a later date.
The commission’s goals would include providing elected policy makers and administrators with date, resources, recommendations and tools to address Kingman’s water challenges.
The commission would also identify ways to conserve water and recharge supplies, serve as the community’s voice both locally and at the state level, and provide monthly updates on water issues.
“In addition to Colorado River water, we have to focus on groundwater and shine the light brightly on that sustainability,” Councilwoman Jen Miles said.