Mohave Valley, AZ: Water rights transfer and fallowing program proposal became the big topic of discussion during the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District Meeting.
A Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District Meeting was held on Tuesday, February 6th, 2018 at the Mohave Valley Fire Department in Mohave Valley, Arizona.
The meeting had a variety of agenda items that members of the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District discussed and voted on, including approving directing staff to secure a legislative consultant for the district and voted to re-elect Charles “Chip” Sherrill as Chairman and Perry Muscelli as Treasurer.
But what had many people in attendance was regarding the water rights transfer and fallowing program proposal related to the Central Arizona Project (C.A.P.).
ZachNews broadcast live on Facebook the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District Meeting as board members, Mohave County Officials, and some from the community discussed the water rights transfer and fallowing program proposal.
The Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (C.A.G.R.D.), the operator of the Central Arizona Project (C.A.P.), wants to transfer water rights from farms in Mohave Valley, Arizona for use in the Phoenix, Arizona and Tucson, Arizona areas.
The Central Arizona Project (C.A.P.)’s governing board, the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (C.A.G.R.D.), approved in September 2017 a $34 million purchase agreement for 7 farms in the Mohave Valley, Arizona area.
The 7 farms come with about 13,900 acre feet of fourth priority and has Present Perfected Rights (P.P.R.) mainstream use water supplies.
The Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (C.A.G.R.D.) is pursuing the purchase of the properties and the water rights with the intent of implementing a rotational fallowing program with farmers in the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District (M.V.I.D.D.) to generate a water supply.
The rotational fallowing program is based on a pilot voluntary program the agency created in 2013 with Yuma Mesa Irrigation and Drainage District, and would take 1 acre-foot of water which is equivalent to 326,000 gallons, enough to cover 1 acre of land with a foot of water or what the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District (M.V.I.D.D.) said is enough water to support 3 households for a year.
Concerns from the community and Mohave County Officials over the project taking of the water, including affecting community growth and creating an unhealthy dust environment that would affect farming and community due to those farms being taken out of production during the rotational fallowing program, have many people opposing the Central Arizona Project (C.A.P.) and fallowing program, and all wanting to the water to remain here in their community to be use for their community.
Trent Pike, Assistant to District 5 Mohave County Supervisor Lois Wakimoto, said to board members, “This fallowing program, I don’t believe is good at all. I don’t think we should fallow at all unless it’s for our community. You guys have no idea how much water we’re using right now. I know Mark Clark (board member who wasn’t present) had a nice presentation he did last time…” that’s when Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District Chairman Charles “Chip” Sherrill interrupted saying, “We know exactly how much water we’re using.”
Trent Pike responded back saying, “No you do, you don’t know how many unregistered wells that are out there…” which Charles “Chip” Sherrill interrupted again saying, “Sure we do, we know…”
Trent Pike responded back again saying, “There’s no way you Chip you know how much water we’re using, and there’s no way that you can allow W.P.I. to do a sale with C.A.P. You guys are all against it I do believe – everybody here is against it except for W.P.I. How long has W.P.I. been on this board?”
Trent Pike asked Charles “Chip” Sherrill if he knew how long has W.P.I. been on this board and he said, “5-6 years.”
Trent Pike then asked, “Who brought him to the broad – who brought this guy to the broad?” but nobody said anything.
Trent Pike continued his comments saying, “We’ve had four huge meetings, you guys know why we’re all here. The big elephant in the room, let’s talk about it. What is it – it’s because you guys want to transfer water out of this area. You’re farming for that guy (pointing at Charles “Chip” Sherrill), you know you are; you’re farming a lot Chip. This has got to stop you guys, this is ridiculous.”
Trent Pike then directly his comments to Vince Vasquez, a board member and representative for Water Property Investors (W.P.I.), the New York hedge fund proposing to sell the 7 farms to Central Arizona Project (C.A.P.).
“Vince, you need to go to your people and you need to say, ‘I’ve made a huge mistake — this is not an easy area to take water. It’s a community that cares about their area.’ Tell them you made a big mistake and you don’t want to do that, okay? And you guys, if you stand behind him, you guys are making a big mistake,” said Trent Pike.
Another man – who said he comes from Owens Valley, California – also spoke about the fallowing program and the water issue saying, “My thought of this – I come from Owens Valley and so I’m familiar of one community taking water away from another community, and what happens is it ends up in a big dust bowl. And driving in today, there was a wind blowing – we’re already have a dust bowl. And then the comments you made and a couple fellows made about… a lot less water then we would like.”
The man told members of the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District that,” it’s our water, not your (broad members), water it’s our water – you all manage it – that you would even consider partially off to anywhere… because for the potential for down the road if the drought gets worst and that some of us that live here – businesses, farms, whatever – are going to potentially be told someday well you have to close your golf course because we don’t have enough water.”
Members of the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District encouraged the public to look at the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (C.A.G.R.D.) fallowing program presentation that 2 of their board members heard in a meeting with representatives from Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District last week.
“This is just an overview of what (CAGRD) thinks a fallowing program should look like,” said Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District Chairman Charles “Chip” Sherrill, adding “We did not negotiate on anything, we were there to listen.”
** The Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (C.A.G.R.D.) fallowing program presentation is available at the following Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District (M.V.I.D.D.) website address: **
Mohave County Administrator Mike Hendrix also spoke during the meeting and extended an invitation to each of the board members of the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District to meet with Supervisor Hildy Angius, Supervisor Lois Wakimoto, and Board of Supervisors Chairman Gary Watson to discuss the issue.
“We believe there’s quite a few things that we object to that are legal issues. We have serious concerns that any attempt to try to transfer the water down to Central Arizona isn’t legal and we would challenge it with whatever means we have, as long as it takes, whatever it takes. And so, we believe since they are an elected body and my supervisors in the area, and my chairman need to open up a dialogue with them and appeal to the members to actually do the right thing,” said Mohave County Administrator Mike Hendrix.
** Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District Meeting Agenda Packet: **
For more information regarding the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District Meeting, please call: 1 (928) 768-3325.