…water war is here but thanks to corporate pre$$ just kept off our radar screen …
but no longer as the water war is heating up…
Water for sale? … http://www.yumasun.com/articles/water-87724-rights-yuma.html
It’s happening in other parts of the country. Could it happen here?
Water authorities and private companies are buying properties to divert water from agricultural uses to urban and industrial uses.
In Nevada, a water authority has spent “huge sums of public money to gobble up a string of rural ranches because of the water underneath them,” reported KLAS-TV in Las Vegas.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority has spent nearly $80 million, many times the market value, to buy a string of ranches for the water below.
Vidler Water Co., a privately owned company based in Carson City, Nev., is in the business of developing new sources of water from existing supplies, such as agricultural water used, for municipal and industrial use.
On its website, Vidler notes: “The majority of water rights are currently owned or controlled by agricultural users, and in many locations there are insufficient water rights owned or controlled by municipal and industrial users to meet present and future demand.”
After developing water resources, Vidler sells or leases its water to real estate developers or industrial users or stores the water for future developments or communities.
Could companies with “big money” buy up land in Yuma County to acquire the water underneath it?
A bill introduced in the Arizona Legislature would have authorized establishing authorities that could buy and sell water. Many Yumans opposed HB 2338, currently on hold in the House Agriculture and Water Committee, calling it a water grab by “thirsty” communities in Arizona who want a bigger share of the water from the Colorado River.
Enacting legislation to change a century of water contracts and court rulings is nothing new, according to Phil Townsend. His family has farmed in Yuma County for more than a century.
“We always have had somebody trying to come and take our water rights and take it to another area. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last time this occurs.”
But Townsend notes that it “not that easy” for companies to buy up land for water. He calls the current process “effective” and believes the laws and court rulings will protect Yuma’s water rights.
“We have lots of checks and balances. People locally here have input. So I personally think the process in place is very good.”
A water rights transfer would first have to go through the irrigation district and then gain approval by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Department of Water Resources. Ultimately, the secretary of Interior would have the final say.
But, Townsend pointed out, “first there has to be a willing buyer and a willing seller.”
Which is the point made by Wade Noble, a water attorney who represents several irrigation districts in the county, at the Know Yuma Inside and Out event held in March.
“The question isn’t about someone taking away our water rights. It’s who gives them away. If there’s something they want bad enough, someone will transfer their water,” Noble said.
As farmers age and their offspring don’t want to follow in their footsteps, that money can be tempting, he said.
And water rights can’t be sold without the land. Tom Davis, manager of the Yuma County Water Users Association, explained at the same event that through compacts reached by settlers in the valley, water is “glued” to the land.
“That means farmers probably couldn’t sell the water rights,” Davis said.
Of course, Townsend pointed out, politicians could change everything with new legislation. “On the political side, there are communities with bigger populations and more money that want to take what we have.”.
That’s why it’s important that the “people of Yuma — the farmers and the business people of Yuma — remain vigilant,” he added.
To protect Yuma’s water rights, the community needs to educate itself on water issues.
“If people decide they want something different, that’s fine,” Townsend said. “But I like our way of life.”
May 26, 2013 10:28 PM …BY MARA KNAUB @YSMaraKnaubRead more: http://www.yumasun.com/articles/water-87724-rights-yuma.html#ixzz2UnJys5jc
Not enough water in the Colorado River to go around
Read more: http://www.yumasun.com/articles/river-87703-colorado-water.html#ixzz2UnLdjbUF
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