proactive

Perspective for your consideration …What does it look like when it’s fixed…?

ARIZONA FIGHTS SUIT OVER DENIAL OF WATER TRANSFER …. Arizona is trying to fend off a lawsuit in which a company is suing the state over its refusal to allow ground water to be piped to neighboring Nevada to support new development. The lawsuit pending in federal court in Las Vegas contends, among other things, that the denial interfered with interstate commerce and that Arizona officials violated a federal racketeering law by conspiring with project opponents and by purposely stringing out consideration of the application to “throw up numerous costly bureaucratic hurdles.” The state’s alleged intentional mishandling of Wind River Resources LLC’s application left then-majority owner Erika Van Alstine financially insolvent, forcing her to sell a majority stake in the Arizona-based company, according to the lawsuit. Lawyers for the state Department of Water Resources have yet to respond to the lawsuit’s charges, instead asking that the lawsuit be thrown out on jurisdiction and other legal grounds, including Wind River’s failure to appeal administratively. If the case isn’t dismissed, it should at least be transferred to federal court in Arizona, the state’s lawyers contend. Wind River, whose lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, sought to pump water from the Muddy Creek aquifer in the Mormon Wells area north of Beaver Dam and transport it to the Virgin Valley Water District in nearby Mesquite, Nev. The March 15, 2005, application was the first submitted to the Department of Water Resources for a decision under a 1989 state law that set criteria for transporting water out of Arizona. The law was enacted seven years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that groundwater is subject to the U.S. Constitution’s protections for interstate commerce. Wind River’s application called for exporting up to 14,000 acre-feet of water annually. An acre-foot of water is about 325,000 gallons, enough to supply two average families of four for a year. Many Beaver Dam and Littlefield residents opposed the application, expressing concerns that the project could leave their wells dry. Following the recommendation of an administrative law judge, state Water Resources Director Herb Guenther rejected Wind River’s application on Nov. 28. In a Nov. 1 report that Guenther adopted with only a few changes, Judge Thomas Shedden recommended that Wind River’s application be denied because the company failed to update key aspects, provided inaccurate information and did not submit hydrological studies on the pumping’s probable impact on the Mormon Wells area. That left the department without enough information to decide whether Wind River had satisfied the Arizona law’s requirements, including whether the exported water would be used for a “reasonable and beneficial” use in another state, Shedden said. Wind River contended it submitted all the necessary documentation to support its application and that its project would not harm existing water users in the lower Virgin River basin. Wind River also has argued that the state law requiring it to get Arizona’s permission to export water was unconstitutional.

This report above is the first in a series of wild-west-skirmishes ushering in what will be a long arduous pejorative battle over water. This is but the very tip of an iceberg respecting how – water – in all of its many forms will be fought over. Water is the life-blood of any area in the West, and ownership or control of water in the West elicits a response one has power, authority and dominion. Arizona enters these battles a bit beleaguered as our water rights are subservient and “junior” to the rights enjoyed by – Nevada – California – New Mexico – Utah – Colorado our closest neighbors with “senior” rights as adjudicated under the Compact of the River. It strikes me that Arizona has absolutely no choice but to defend any action from any source which threatens to take in any form what Arizona chooses to believe is its water.

Not only is Nevada taking this shot at Arizona’s water, but our neighbor to the North – Utah – has made application to withdraw significant amounts of water from Lake Powell to provide water to support its unprecedented growth in St. George and Cedar City. Our friends in New Mexico are making plans to take more the water to which they are entitled from the Colorado River, while that 900# gorilla – California – appears to be a bit in a stealth mode at the moment.

Were all those states signature to the Compact of the River to actually withdraw all the water to which they are by contract entitled – no – water would reach Phoenix, or damn little, certainly not enough to support our current population let alone our appetite for future growth.

And this short discussion does not even remotely address what does the Compact of the River do about the legitimate claims of the sovereign nation/state of Mexico…?

Might it be time for Arizona to get honest and real about the water is actually has and develop proactive plans to conserve it for the benefit of the many…?

And let me be even a bit bolder, I am most willing to present and discuss any water issue before any audience in Arizona where full open disclosure and two way dialog is permitted

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