Community View | Real Change PAC opposes irrigation non-expansion area designation

Real Change PAC has filed its statement of opposition to the Hualapai Basin's designation as an irrigation non-expansion area (INA) as testimony for the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) public hearing process ordered by the ADWR Director on Oct. 12.

The ADWR's public hearing order was in response to Supervisor Travis Lingenfelter’s June 23 request for the Hualapai Groundwater Basin to be designated as an INA based on the following justifications for ADWR action: (1) “citizens … that rely upon the (groundwater) as their primary and forever water source … risk depletion of this finite groundwater basin;” (2) “the citizens … deserve to have their collective future secured;” and, (3) “the unsustainable current groundwater withdrawal for irrigation purposes (endangers) the 100-year Adequate Water Supply and well-being of the citizens and communities.”

We at Real Change PAC don’t oppose the non-expansion of irrigation. But there are two water management plans that stop future agricultural development, and only the active management area (AMA) plan addresses the threat to our public water supply. The irony is that Supervisor Lingenfelter undermines his own request with justifications for ADWR action that can only be addressed by an AMA.”

The PAC’s 37-page statement of opposition submitted to the ADWR included 36 pages of documentation obtained from the ADWR website, including hydrographs of the Community Water Supply wells for the three public water supply systems within the Hualapai Basin that document a history of decline occurring long before the explosion of agricultural development.

According to Jack Ehrhardt, the PAC’s sustainability director, “the only plan that deals with the threat to our public water supply is the AMA. And when you look at the precedent set by the ADWR from previous designations, the INA designations have been made to protect the reasonably safe supply of groundwater for the existing agricultural development, and the AMA designations have been made to protect the groundwater for citizens and communities. The INA will do nothing to help our public water supply.”

Supervisor Lingenfelter has referred to the AMA as an “extreme” intervention. We concur that an AMA is an extreme intervention, but the one thing more extreme than an AMA is running out of groundwater.

(J’aime Morgaine is the executive director of Real Change PAC. Real Change is a Kingman-based political action committee working for non-partisan, common-ground issues across Arizona's 5th/30th Legislative District.)

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