County prepares for water suit

August 18, 2018

The Mohave County Board of Supervisors is taking the next step in mounting a legal battle against the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District.

A notice of claim is anticipated to be filed against the district following Monday’s board meeting in an attempt to seek a settlement that could include preventing the district from allowing any transfer of Colorado River water out of Mohave County.

“Anytime you sue a political subdivision in order to succeed in court you have to file a notice of claim,” said Ryan Esplin, Mohave County civil deputy attorney. “This is the first step … saying we are issuing a notice of claim that they have violated our rights and that we demand a settlement.”

The terms of the settlement have yet to be established.

The notice of claim is the latest in a long-running battle with MVIDD.

On July 10, the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District approved a resolution that could allow the transfer of the water outside of the district under a fallowing program. Under contractual agreements, individual farmers would be able to sell the unused water to anyone with a financial interest.

Tops on the list of interested parties in the water are the Central Arizona Groundwater and Replenishment District, despite negations for a $34 million land sale and associated water rights falling out with MVIDD farmers earlier this summer.

Had the sale gone through it would have diverted approximately 5,500 acre-feet of water from Mohave County to towns in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties.

Board President Gary Watson is a vocal opponent of any transfer of water from Mohave County.

“I’ve been pushing hard on the legal process,” Watson said. “What MVIDD wants to do absolutely stinks. What it does is that it will rob the water from the other 1,600 members in the community.”

The district’s move to allow a fallowing program, Watson added, is in direct contradiction of a longstanding policy to forbid the transfer of Colorado River water out of the county.

Also on Monday, the Board of Supervisors will consider drafting a letter asking Gov. Doug Ducey’s support regarding the Hualapai Tribe’s use of 4,000 acre-feet of Colorado River that was established through a previous agreement .

“What has happened is the U.S. Department of Interior has indicated they don’t want to fund a pipeline from Diamond Bar to Grand Canyon West, which was part of the original agreement,” Watson said. “Instead the (DOI) wants to pump groundwater from the Truxton Basin, which is not acceptable.”

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