Arizona legislators expect water fight

State Rep. Regina Cobb

State Rep. Regina Cobb

LAKE HAVASU CITY – Lake Havasu City’s representatives in the Arizona State Capitol say they’ll be closely watching the Central Arizona Project’s attempt to take water rights from Mohave County.

In October, CAP began the due diligence phase of a sale with a pair of New York City hedge fund firms to purchase seven farms in Mohave Valley totaling approximately 2,200 acres of farmland with approximately 14,000 acre-feet of diversion water rights from the Colorado River. If the sale proceeds, it will syphon off more than 5,500 acre feet of water annually to central Arizona homes and businesses.

“There is a lot of push back on this especially from the rural caucus,” said state Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City. “I don’t believe there is any support to have this endeavor move forward, and hopefully any legislation supporting it will die. If it doesn’t die, I’m going to do everything I can to drown it.”

If the sale proceeds, Rep. Regina Cobb, R-Kingman, agrees with Borrelli that Colorado River water issues will receive a lot of focus when the legislative session begins Jan. 8.

“There are issues I have with both sides of taking Colorado River water,” Cobb said. “We’ll see how that bill comes out. I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s supposed to be an extensive bill, so it will have a lot of parts that I may or may not agree with. Still, the ultimate goal is protecting my district.”

Cobb also plans to reintroduce water legislation she submitted at the start of this year’s session that failed for lack of support.

The bill, Cobb said, will strengthen the regulatory authority of the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR). Currently ADWR has no regulatory authority over water resources used by agriculture or the ability of imposing limits on how many wells farming operations can drill.

“What I’d like to see is, if there is an at-risk aquifer, we allow county supervisors to go to the Department of Water Resources and ask them to conduct metering and monitoring of that basin,” Cobb said.

“Right now we have basins that are being drained pretty quickly and we have no control over our water. Although people have to apply to put a well in, once they do, there are no restrictions on how much water they can take out.”

Water is going to be a “big fight,” Cobb added.

“I’m not sure why we decided to tackle water this year, in an election year, because normally we are done early, but I doubt that’s going to happen,” Cobb said. “It’s going to be a full session.”