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Town Hall set for Monday on pending water rights transfer

November 3, 2017 GMT

BULLHEAD CITY — “I wake up at 4 a.m. thinking water,” said Mohave County Sup. Lois Wakimoto. “I go to sleep at night thinking water; the issue is that big. Water is the lifeblood of our community.”

Wakimoto wants to stop the operator of the Central Arizona Project aqueduct system from transferring the water rights from farms in Mohave Valley for use in the Phoenix and Tucson areas and is hosting a Town Hall meeting to inform area residents of the issue.

The Town Hall meeting begins at 5 p.m. Monday at the Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce, 1251 Highway 95.

“We shouldn’t be giving our water to Central Arizona as part of their 100-year growth plan,” Wakimoto said. “What about the future growth of our own area? All that water they want to move is not designated agriculture only, it is designated agriculture and municipalities and industries.”

CAP’s governing board, the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, approved the purchase of seven farms with a total landmass of slightly over 2,200 acres in Mohave Valley; the seven properties come with approximately 13,000 total acre-feet of water rights, roughly 25 percent of the total 51,000 acre-feet allocated to Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District.


An acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover an acre with a foot of water, about 326,000 gallons. One acre-foot is roughly enough water to support two households for one year.

“If we move the water out of the area we will never get it back,” Wakimoto said. “Not only will we never grow, we could find ourselves in the position of having to buy back the water we sold — if it is even available.”

An agenda item on from CAP’s September Board of Directors meeting suggested that the purpose of the land purchase was to secure rights to Colorado River water and to implement a rotational fallowing program to generate a water supply for the CAP Groundwater Replenishment District.

Perri Benemelis, a representative of CAPGRD, is scheduled to give a presentation for discussion to members of the MVIDD board of directors at its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday.

“CAP was hoping this issue would fly under the radar,” Wakimoto said. “The bottom line is they want to transfer the water to Central Arizona. And I don’t want the issue clouded by semantics — if we are going to fallow farm areas, we should keep the water local, for our own future growth.”

The $34 million dollar purchase has met with opposition from the county as well as from Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City; all recently passed resolutions objecting to the acquisition of water rights by CAWCD and any movement of the water outside the district.


In a letter to the CAWCD in opposition of the contract, Mohave County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gary Watson wrote that the “farmers who purport to sell and divert the water to CAWCD are named ‘Water Property Investor, LP,’ New York financial interests speculating on the value of water in Arizona.”

Watson went on to note that while the assessed value of the seven properties combined is about $440,000 the purchase price approved by CAWCD is $34 million.

“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 a rural Arizona County,” Watson wrote.

CAP is attempting to close the farm deal by Jan. 19, Wakimoto said.

“The future of our community is at stake right now,” Wakimoto said. “As a river community, giving that water to Central Arizona means we’ll end up only with the growth we currently have. Moving the water out of the area will have a small impact on the individual, but will affect growth and development of the area for generations to come.”