BULLHEAD CITY — Central Arizona Project board of directors voted unanimously Thursday morning to terminate the proposed purchase agreement with Water Asset Management and Water Property Investors LLC and affiliates for seven Mohave Valley Farms and the associated water rights.
“It’s a baby step in the right direction,” said Mohave County District 5 Sup. Lois Wakimoto, who along with Mohave County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gary Watson and Mohave County Manager Mike Hendrix attended the Phoenix meeting. “Chairman Gary Watson and I are glad for the unanimous vote. Congratulations for all the people of Mohave County.”
Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District, the arm of CAP representing the water district in the proposed $34 million farm purchases, placed the item on the agenda with a recommendation that the CAP board terminate the agreement.
CAP board of directors previously approved two extensions of the feasibility period and closing date on the sale as CAGRD staff negotiated with Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District on a proposed fallowing program that would provide water for the Phoenix and Tucson areas.
The MVIDD board of directors announced Tuesday the negotiations stalled in early May.
CAGRD’s purchase of the seven properties was contingent on modifying an MVIDD resolution to allow water to move out of the district. MVIDD board of directors introduced proposed language for the policy modification in March, but did not bring the proposal forward for a vote.
“I think CAP staff made clear that a fallowing program is still under consideration,” said Patrick Cunningham, Mohave County spokesman. “Whether it is in Mohave County or any other county, a rotational fallowing program that takes water away from the counties on the river, Mohave County will oppose that.”
Cunningham said Mohave County would be happy to discuss a fallowing program plan that puts water behind the dam and stores it in Lake Mead to prevent shortage.
“But a plan to send water to Central Arizona from the three river counties — I believe Mohave County will continue to oppose that,” Cunningham said.
Watson and Wakimoto, who testified before the CAP board Thursday, suggested the water district look to water within their three counties for the water they need.
“That water could come from the Gila River Indian Community, which has 177,000 acre-feet of water to lease every year through their settlement with the U.S.,” Cunningham said. “It could come from private parties that have stored water in the three-county area and they have long term storage credits to sell. We think those two areas are where the CAGRD and the CAP board ought to turn to and make use of that water.”