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5/6/2014 6:00:00 AM
Report: Kingman, Golden Valley use too much water
Concerns about water use at the recently established Kingman Farms prompted Mohave County leaders to look at the region's water supply. (JC AMBERLYN/Miner)
Concerns about water use at the recently established Kingman Farms prompted Mohave County leaders to look at the region's water supply. (JC AMBERLYN/Miner)

Matt Reinig
Miner reporter

KINGMAN - Water use in Kingman and Golden Valley is outstripping supply, according to hydrologists with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Annual water demand in Golden Valley from the Sacramento Valley Basin exceeded yearly supplies by about 2,400 acre-feet, and annual water demands in Kingman from the Hualapai Basin exceeded yearly supplies by about 5,600 acre-feet, said a USGS report presented to the Mohave County Board of Supervisors Monday.

Those figures are based on 2008 data - the latest available - and precede the controversial Kingman Farms LLC operation in Golden Valley that was the impetus for Monday's presentation.

"When I was a kid, there was a commercial that said, 'When you're out of Schlitz, you're out of beer,'" said Kingman resident John Lutenske at the hearing. "When you're out of water, you're out of life."

A crowd of about 250 attended. No one associated with Kingman Farms LLC spoke at the meeting, which supervisors scheduled in part to learn what options the county has in establishing an Active Management Area or Irrigation Non-Expansion Area.

Management area

Those are areas designated by Arizona Department of Water Resources as having a heavy reliance on mined ground water, and entails varying degrees of water restriction and regulation.

Representatives with ADWR said a 1993 review of Golden Valley's Sacramento Valley Basin yielded no need for an AMA, and although ADWR had just been made aware of current water concerns in Golden Valley that would require additional study, upon initial review they do not think an AMA is warranted for Golden Valley in 2014. Even if a management area is established in the area, ADWR officials said, that may not prevent Kingman Farms from operating due to two clauses incorporated by the state Legislature: Operations classified as having a "substantial capital investment" or that have been operating five years prior to establishment of an AMA can be grandfathered in.

The onus to resolving the county's water issue rests with the Board of Supervisors, said state Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, who attended Monday's meeting.

"I've received email and phone calls from people who work in our district," said Ward. "The state doesn't really control this. It really is a county issue, but we've connected them with the right people."

Ward said she does not know if establishing an AMA is the best solution for Mohave County, since it will turn water management over to the state until the goals of an established action plan are met.

"You give up a lot of control," she said. "I think a lot of people might think an AMA (is the best solution), but it definitely has its pros and cons."

A hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey said during the presentation that the report considered factors such as ground sediment with varying water retention ability to determine supply, how area usage impacts surrounding areas, and where and how waters are replenished in the aquifers.

The Hualapai Basin can hold 102 million acre-feet of water, for example, but with the underground sediment, the basin has 11.4 million acre-feet available, according to information provided in the presentation.

The aquifers are filled by rainfall that flows from high to low elevation, although the vast majority of it evaporates or is used by plant life prior to reaching the aquifer.

Prior to the presentation, about 15 residents offered public comment, many of whom expressed concern about the amount of dust produced through land disturbance at the Golden Valley farm, and future water use intentions at the farm with trucks moving large amounts of well piping into the area.

Residents who live near the farm and who offered public comment also submitted pictures of crop sprinklers resting in pools of water, questioning the drainage retention system that representatives at the farm said would be used before their operations began.

Others with private wells expressed concern about the farm's impact on their water supply, and one resident said he contemplated three hospital visits for a family member due to respiratory problems from the dust.

The U.S. Geological Survey told supervisors the presented data is sufficient to predict future scenarios with a degree of accuracy, although an additional year of ground sediment study would be required in order to predict future levels with scientific merit using the department's computer simulated survey.

The board tasked County Supervisor Mike Hendrix to work with the U.S. Geological Survey to determine what that additional study would specifically require, and to present his findings to the board at a later date.

The U.S. Geological Survey report presented Monday was funded in part by both the city of Kingman and Mohave County, they said.

Liquid Chicken
Related Links:
• Mohave County water supply presentation

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, May 10, 2014
Article comment by: Only Rick Sherwood knows it all

Rick Sherwood says "any reasonable person would agree (with me)."

The prior Board understood what Rick can't comprehend or take the time to look at the facts. In spite of all the hoopla and "the sky is falling" screechy voices, there is plenty of water in the 2 main basins in Mohave County. He should read and understand the reports instead of adding to the fog of rhetoric.

When he wants to give the county more control over our lives, one has to ask: Is HE planning to run for supervisor again in order to have control over other people's lives? That's might liberal of him.

Posted: Thursday, May 8, 2014
Article comment by: RICK SHERWOOD

I think any reasonable person would agree that there needs to be an understanding that we all share in aquifer water. What I keep seeing is the hell with the next guy it's my well that is the most important. I don't understand this thinking. We have ADEQ for air quality, you can't burn tires or have chlorine leaks, we have zoning ordinances to protect your property from your neighbors encroachment, we have CC &R's to protect your property values, why wouldn't we want protection of your most precious resource, water? I'm not suggesting AMA, but I am suggesting some sort of more local authority. Regardless, the previous BOS didn't do their job in protecting us, now we're faced with a depleting water source and nothing can be done about that. What can and should be done is to figure ways to provide for future supply. This is what the current BOS should be working toward.

Posted: Thursday, May 8, 2014
Article comment by: Ray Berkebile

It sounds as if all estimates of available water in Mohave county are "guestimates": enough water for 100 years, 200 years,11,400 acre-feet , 2400 acre-feet per year, 25,000 home developments, computer simulations, etc. It's not a matter of Rhodes or other developers or solar power developments. It's about the ability of the aquifers to be replenished. Since Lake Mead and Lake Alamo haven't been replenished by rain and snow, how can the aquifers be restored? Until one can measure the effects of water withdrawal, don't say we have enough water in Mohave county for mass farming and/or developments.

Posted: Thursday, May 8, 2014
Article comment by: Steven Robinson

There's one more thing, Uncle Anson.

According to a reliable source, experts at a local business VERY concerned about water, the water level at their own wells has INCREASED, not decreased, over the last decade! And they are a major "player" in the "Water Politics" in Mohave County.

Posted: Thursday, May 8, 2014
Article comment by: Steven Robinson

@ Uncle Anson:

I'm GLAD you asked (smiles)! I spoke about what you called "estimate of basin capacity" but what the USGS calls "available water" which is water found in the FIRST 400 meters (1,312 feet) below land surface (bls).

EVEN THOUGH the sub-basins reach down as far as 14,000 feet below land surface, the available water is what's available within the 1,300 feet.

The Hualapai Aquifer which, like the other two Aquifers, Detrital & Sacramento Valley, consists of three sub-basins, the Kingman, Hualapai and Southern Greg. The deepest is the Hualapai at 14,000 feet. The previous estimate of available water was reduced from 15 Million Acre Feet to 11.4 Million. The net withdrawal, or "Storage Change" is 5,600 acre feet annually. At that rate it will take 100 years to withdraw 4.91% of the available water, based on 2008 withdrawal figures.

The Sacramento Valley Aquifer WAS estimated at 16 Million Acre Feet, but NOW is estimated at 28 Million AcFt, or 75% MORE than was estimated 18 months earlier.

IF the et Storage Change annually suddenly increased to 25,000 AcFt per year over the next 100 years the water withdrawn from this Aquifer would be LESS than 9% of the total water available!! That's assuming that USGS assumptions are correct. They're too restrictive.

Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Article comment by: Site Steward

justanobody sr,

While I agree with you, unfortunately Mohave County specifically states that ADWR is the agency that will issue the permit/approval to drill the well.


The Environmental Health Division (EHD) reviews well applications only for those wells proposed on 5 acres or less. The EHD is looking for proper setbacks from septic systems. All wells must maintain a setback of at least 100 ft. from any septic system. After this information is reviewed, the application is sent to the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR). ADWR is the agency that will issue the permit/approval to drill the well. The application to drill a well can be found on this page.

•Application to drill, deepen or modify a well
•Other ADWR information/forms
•Instruction Packet For Well Applications
Arizona Department of Water Resources
3550 N. Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85012
Phone: (602)771-8500
Long Distance in AZ: (800)352-8488
Fax: (602)771-8678

Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Article comment by: Uncle Anson

Hello Mr. Robinson,
Please clarify whether the increase you quoted was from recharge or estimate of basin capacity. A huge difference between the two. Please let us know.

Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Article comment by: justanobody sr

we do not have "AMA' but we DO have a county permit dept.
and last time I checked, you DO need a permit to drill a well,
how about NOT approving rhodes wells!
simple, if you want to, but the GOOD OLE BOYS of mohave county, must be getting something in return for allowing rhodes to continue water ABUSE!
OH and to those who say there is plenty of water................ PROVE IT!!!!!!!!

Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Article comment by: Lori McMullen

Rhodes has been givin free reign in Golden Valley, not only water usage but now he wants to put in a 40-50 thousand acre farm? The dust is bad enough, but all he's doing is plowing and not planting. People who stop in at his "fruit stand" have said nobody speaks English when asked where his fruit is from as they can see there are no fruit trees.
I am told he has a relative involved in Mohave County politics , so basically he's able to do whatever he wants...WE DON'T WANT HIM HERE!
The dust is so bad at times we can't even see the mountains...let's see how many cases of Valley Fever are reported this year..The guy is a crook, and Mohave County knows it but chooses to turn a blind eye...

Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Article comment by: Wayne Erwin

The future health and welfare of the Mohave County population is dependent upon a continuing supply of uncontaminated fresh water. Increasing withdrawals and increasing demands from the Sacramento Valley Basin and the Hualapai Valley Basin are limiting the water available for future use. More comprehensive water-use data and analysis of water-use information are needed to quantify the stress on existing supplies and to better model and evaluate possible water-supply management options to supplement traditional water-supply approaches. Until the USGS can update their data we will not know for sure how much water will be available for future use and until Mohave County puts in place an AMA (Active Management Area) the community's of Kingman and Golden Valley or any other communities in Mohave County will have no say in how that water is used nor how much may be extracted from those two aquifers going forward.

Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Article comment by: Jim Bronson

Hang in ther Mr. Robinson. Some people see cactuses and think we don't have any water. Nothing could be further from the truth. They confuse surface water with useable water (of which we have plenty.)
They need to ask themselves: If Kingman became as large as Las Vegas over-night, would all that water run-out by the year 3000? According to even conservative estimates, the answer is probably not. Is Kingman ever going to get as big as Las Vegas? Probably not.
I'm not advocating wasting water, but I am advocating rational thought. And as Mr. Tomchin sorta points out, The real question is: Are these farms a WASTE of water? Now that is open for debate. The amount of water we have really isn't even debateable other than semantics. Folks, we have plenty of water!

Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Article comment by: Edward Tomchin

Golden Valley's aquifers would suffice for a large increase in population were it not for Rhodes Development putting a farm on a thousand or more acres in the south end of the valley.

Farming uses immensely greater quantities of water than if the property were used for residences. I don't know why this state continues to cater to Rhodes, who has been convicted of several land related offenses, including bribery, in Nevada, New Mexico and Texas. He was even caught bribing Arizona officials a few years ago and got off with a fine and a slap on the wrist.

Apparently Rhodes can get away with community genocide here in Arizona. He is surely paying off the right people. After all, it's what he is best known for.

Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Article comment by: Steven Robinson

@ Really?? Robinson

First, let me state that I was wrong about the previous water usage in the Hualapai Basin being 11,000 AcFt. The previous report also showed it at 5,600 AcFt.

Second, these are NOT my figures. Rather they come from the USGS's own reports! IF you Google the following two reports, you'll find them available through the USGS website. I had the first one since December 2011, three months after it appeared and the second one is a year+ old and has updated figures.

Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5159
Scientific Investigations Report 2012–5275

By the way, in that latest report, the Detrital and Sacramento Valley Basins' estimated "Total Available Water" (that within 400 meters or 1,312 feet below land surface) INCREASED 75-77% from the previous estimates to 7.9 and 28 Million Acre Feet of Storage!! IF the net draw down of water in the Sacramento Valley Basin (Golden Valley & Yucca areas) by TEN-FOLD to over 25,000 Acre Feet per year, it would take OVER 200 years to draw down 20% of the available water, even assuming their estimates of recharge is correct.

I had previously posted the link to the USGS website to confirm my figures, but the Miner doesn't allow links in their comments.

Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Article comment by: Reading the Future

When the water no longer comes out of the tap, people will know there is a problem. Not before.

Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Article comment by: Orin Sumner

Thank you Mr. Byrne, for saying something for those of us who can see what is going to happen here if it is not stopped. Another off ramp? For more jobs? More stores? Nothing that people want or need. Just more strip mall stores (dollar stores) and the jobs will be for running cash registers.

Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Article comment by: Info From 2008?!!!

C'mon guys, why are you using such old data to create these non-stories? You know how easily some of these people get spooked.
Do you know why Rhodes doesn't even bother having a representative show up? In my opinion it's because he knows it will be a room full of Don Quixotes tilting at windmills.

Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Article comment by: hello hello

Growing too big. that is a laugh, maybe we need some young persons running this town. We need growth!!!!! Amazing how we only let food and tire companys come in. Lets get another on and put in on Stockton hill too. Where is the gorwth for Andy Devine the new part. Lets put a Castco in. YEA!!!!

Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Article comment by: joker wilde

We live in a desert. Deserts don't have much water, even in good years. That's why they are called deserts. We should conserve water. Give up golf and try horseshoes.

Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Article comment by: mac nelson

I have been wrong with my memory before and I'm sure I'll be wrong again but, if I remember correctly, a previous administration gave up our water rights to the Colorado River. I believe the reasoning was we will never have the technology or the need to bring it here. I think that was the same administration that said we had a 100 year supply of water. No doubt the same school of thought that believed man would never have the technology to fly or go to the moon. We also had the opportunity to annex the area that the farm is located on, or very close to it. This quite possibly could have given us more control of our well sites. I also believe that this is legal under Arizona law. Just look at some of the city limit signs that are miles from any sign of a city. Someone once said if you bury your head in the sand your butt is left exposed. Whichever expert you choose to believe, we should probably start practicing water conservation as a community.
Last time I checked Kingman was in a desert. Have a nice summer.

Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Article comment by: Jim Bronson

Thank you Steven Robinson! I wonder if some of the other comments read your post before submitting their own. The sky is not falling people! And it appears by the comments below, that some people are getting it, but sadly some still don't. If people would realize what Mr. Robinson is saying then maybe we could have an intelligent conversation about where we go from here. Yes, we should conserve, but at what price? Until people stop screaming bloody murder, we can't have any meaningful conversation.
I have heard it said that one of the things Kingman has going for it is water. So why do so many people want to curtail one of our biggest assets? Is it because they are un-informed? I suggest to them that they read Mr. Robinson's post, and do the mental math.

Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Article comment by: L J

The State pretty much said that a AMA is not warranted.
Mohave County has no control & Rhodes can do what he likes and it appears Keli Ward doesn't want to touch it.
Like it or not seems our backs are aganist the wall.

Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Article comment by: Uncle A

Steven and Al-
Short sighted at best. Lack of applying the scientific method. Guess at tomorrow based on yesterday. There are many constantly changing variables at play here including climate change, population, land use change at the like. In the grand scheme of things, man has not been around long enough to make statistically reliable predictions. How did Hannibal get the elephants across the alps? No snow and ice...climate change? European mini ice age? climate change? Midwest dust bowl followed by rain....climate change? current drought conditions...climate change?....Lake Mead lower and lower....climate change or a mistake by the USACE (guess). Yes, man has messed up a lot too. But I simply cannot accept we are a residential/agricultural area or some dated study based on data that predates current conditions. 5% use of available water in 100 years? Preposterous conclusion and and even more preposterous excuse. At what point does the scale tip? At what point is anything significant? A 5% change in temperature would be considered a disaster.What if it were 10%? Same here. Man simply does not know beyond a guess. So slide on the slope of dubious information and emotion.

Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Article comment by: Harry Hausen

The readers of this article are quick to blame Jim Rhodes and his farming activities - why don't you follow the trail of pipes to the north - it goes right to our friends at Mineral Park. Millions of gallons per day and for what? So that a Russian company can come in and bail out a company that has not been profitable since they re-opened. Perhaps we should say, "Nyet - Comrade"

Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Article comment by: michael Dye

Mr Byrne,this city has grown a lot since 1988,I went to highschool here,the fact we are small contrasted too phx or any where else is the vary reason we are growing,people are excapeing big cities too come here and then we grow,growth can be managed but not long as phx keeps growing and people hate bigger cities they will continue too flock here,its just a reality,we managed growth,not out of control growth.

Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Article comment by: Jack a Lope

Welcome to Rhodesland. He didn’t get his way the 1st time so now he is going to show who is really the boss.

any body who has lived here more than 15 years can tell you we are using way more water than what is being replenished within 50 miles.

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