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Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
4:23 AM Wed, Dec. 19th

Despite progress, water problem is still here

Jack Ehrhardt submitted this photo of one of the water wells drilled near the airport.

Jack Ehrhardt submitted this photo of one of the water wells drilled near the airport.

We need water protection, and we need it now.

A lot of folks are quietly worrying about it. A lot of people continue to wonder, “What’s going on with the water?”

We’ve learned over the past couple of weeks that positive steps are being taken regarding the water supply in the Hualapai Valley basins that quench Kingman’s thirst. We just don’t know if these steps are positive enough.

Mohave County and the City of Kingman joined forces with the U.S. Geological Service in 2017 to conduct a $450,000 impact study over three years that will accurately establish withdrawal effects with models to predict the impact on Kingman wells and anticipate changes to our aquifer’s water level.

It was only a few years ago when the water level wasn’t a concern though there was an annual water deficit of about 5,600 acre-feet. That was before significant agriculture usage came to the neighborhood.

We are within two years from a final published report by the USGS in March 2020. This will be used to predict the effect of farm wells pumping in the different areas. This ball is rolling now and that is a good thing. However, we are still in the dark for the next two years.

Nick Hont, former director of Mohave County Development Services who is contracted by the county to help correct the water situation here in Kingman, appears to be gathering momentum in recharging the aquifer with storm water runoff. He told the Daily Miner that he is convinced the aquifer can be recharged by up to 4,000 acre-feet by capturing it in detention basins.

The USGS study is also supposed to help with finding ways for a greater recharge of the aquifer, especially if its fear of 100,000 acre-feet being removed due to agriculture comes true. Arizona Department of Water Resources has reported significant increases in the amount of water taken out of aquifer over the past three measurable years. It was 8,000 acre-feet in 2014 to 23,000 acre-feet in 2015 and 32,000 acre-feet in 2016.

That’s on top of what we use as a city. In the last three years, agriculture has used 12 city-use years of water.

The concern that has been heard and continues to worry the citizens of Kingman is that we’re sitting here being asked to hold our breath and hope the news isn’t catastrophic when the USGS report is finalized. At the 2016 rate, it would mean another 20-plus city-use years taken out of the aquifer by the time that report comes out in March 2020.

Mohave County is already in one water fight. The Central Arizona Project is planning on buying land and associate water rights in the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District with the intention of sending 5,500 acre feet of Colorado River water to central Arizona annually.

It is understood that the current landowners who are farming made their purchases with the understanding they could use the water to farm. There is nothing to be done in those situations.

As the water continues to gush out of our aquifer, we are disturbed and concerned that newcomers can still come in and open another valve.

We are hopeful our elected leaders understand this and are not just expecting the electorate to sit and wait for two more years before any real action takes place. Reach out to your council members and supervisors and let them know our local governments should have been active years ago regarding the aquifers.

We can’t get that time back, but we can demand action today.