Time runs out on proposed water law

KINGMAN - Kingman will have to wait a little longer to see any revenue from the sale of 3,500 acre-feet of industrial Colorado River water.

Two bills moving through the Arizona Senate that would have changed the use of the water failed to make it to the Senate floor before the Legislative session ended, said Sen. Ron Gould.

"There wasn't enough time to hear it," he said.

The water is part of a larger allocation of 18,500 acre-feet that was given to the city of Kingman by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1922.

In 1994, Kingman was notified that it would lose that allocation if it did not find some way to use it. The city could not easily get the water from the river into the city system, and there were other communities, such as Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City, that were seeking water.

In 1995, the Legislature approved the formation of the Mohave County Water Authority. Kingman gave control of the water allocation to the authority and receives royalties from the sale of the water. The members of the authority are Lake Havasu City, Bullhead City, the city of Kingman, the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District, Golden Shores Water Conservation District and the Mohave County Water Conservation District.

Currently, the 3,500 acre-feet of water can only be used for industrial purposes and cannot be supplied by a municipal or private water company.

A bill proposed by Rep. Nancy McLain would have eliminated a clause in the state statute that would require the Water Authority to create a subcontract with any business that would purchase industrial water. It would have also eliminated the industrial water designation.

This would allow the water to be used for both municipal and industrial purposes.

McLain's bill passed the Arizona House and a subcommittee in the Senate, but did not make it to the Senate floor for a vote.

"It was held again," she said. McLain had proposed a similar bill last year that also failed to pass because it never reached the Senate floor before the legislative session ended. "I had the votes to pass it."

Gould also proposed a bill this year which would have left the industrial designation intact and allowed a city or water company to supply the water to a business.

Gould prefers his bill to McLain's. He believes that the water should remain designated solely for industrial purposes in order to provide an incentive for industry to move to Mohave County.

The mayors of all three cities in Mohave County feel differently. They told a Senate subcommittee last month that they preferred McLain's bill.

"I don't know why the cities oppose it," Gould said, unless they want to use the water for residential purposes. Doing so would stifle the county and cities' economies, he said, because industry would have to look elsewhere for water.

Both McLain and Gould plan to propose similar water bills again next year.

"I plan to propose it next year and every year after until common sense prevails," McLain said.