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Mohave County set for formal vote on water rights

April 17, 2018 GMT

Today, the Mohave County Board of Supervisors will formally request to have the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District transfer 30 acre-feet of water entitlements for agricultural purposes.

Earlier this month, supervisors OK’d purchase of 15-acres of land at a cost of $250,000, plus fees and other incidental expenses, in the Mohave Valley area in an attempt to prevent water from leaving the county.

The purchase strengthens the county’s right to bring legal action against the Central Arizona Project or the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District over a proposed $34 million land purchase that would transfer more than 5,500 acre-feet of Colorado River water annually from Mohave Valley to towns in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties.

Currently, the land is being used to raise alfalfa and would probably remain the crop of choice, said Supervisor Buster Johnson.

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“This is going to be tricky,” Johnson said. “Once again we have no contracts (with a farming operation). The first contract I finally saw said the lease had expired and now I am being told the lease is still in effect, but I haven’t seen anything on it.”

Instead of alfalfa, Johnson would like to see the land used as an honor farm for the Sheriff’s Department.

“We could put inmates out there and have milk cows and pigs, where they could raise their own food,” Johnson said. “Something like that would be a good deal.”

The Drainage District, which manages 42,250 acre-feet of water within the Colorado River’s floodplain between Bullhead City and Needles Calif., has taken the first steps to amend a 10-year-old resolution preventing water from leaving its boundaries.

The amended resolution calls for the district to allow for a rotational land fallowing program designed to make water available outside district boundaries. Although not mentioned in the amendment, a fallowing program has been suggested in terms of the Central Arizona Project’s land purchase.