Mohave County Supervisors OK legal action against Drainage District
Mohave County supervisors are moving ahead with legal action against the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District in response the district’s decision to approve a resolution allowing the transfer of water outside the district.
The Mohave County Board of Supervisors on Monday approved attorney Ryley Carlock to draft a letter of intended action to be sent to MVIDD, as well as a draft of a legal memorandum with legal research supporting the analysis in the letter of intended action and a letter to the attorney general that will only be sent if it’s necessary and appropriate. Supervisors voted to pay Carlock about $350 per hour to complete research and draft the documents, for a total maximum fee of $17,500.
Directors of the MVIDD signed a resolution in July that replaced a 29-year-old resolution that prohibited the transfer of water outside of the district. The new resolution allows the MVIDD to create a rotational land fallowing program which would be designed to “make water available outside district boundaries for a defined program period, but not in perpetuity.”
The district boundaries are between Needles, California, and Bullhead City, along the Colorado River.
Supervisors discussed the agenda item in executive session before their Monday meeting and reconvened in public session to approve the action. The letter will “address the improper use of public monies to defend individual board members,” the agenda item states.
The letter also will highlight issues the MVIDD board members face including duty of loyalty, fiduciary duty and conflict issues.
The letter calls for a resolution asking the district to rescind the resolution or amend it to store water saved from fallowing in Lake Mead and continue to use Colorado River water only in river communities.
Mohave County Manager Mike Hendrix said last week that the county does not oppose the fallowing program as it would benefit farmers and conserve water. They also don’t oppose farmers receiving compensation for fallowing their lands when the water stays behind the dam. What the county is speaking out against is the idea that the district can transfer water to communities outside of the district, including communities in central Arizona, he said.
Perry Muscelli, MVIDD board member, said the board believes it’s doing what’s in the best interest of the people that live in its district.
“We are not doing any permanent transfers and I think they know this,” Muscelli said. “I question whether it’s the best way for them to spend their money to keep pursuing this.”
The water has to go outside the district, he said. Putting water in Lake Mead or transferring water to Bullhead City would be considered transferring it outside the district.
The Mohave County Board of Supervisors has threatened to sue and sent letters to the attorney general in the past, Muscelli said, but the attorney general has never told MVIDD they’re doing anything wrong.
“If we are doing something wrong we want to correct it. We definitely don’t want to do anything wrong,” Muscelli said. “But we don’t believe we are doing anything wrong. To me it’s more of a harassment because it really doesn’t have any merit.”