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State Water Agency Doesn't Recommend Quartzsite Deal

Photo via Town of Quartzsite - Facebook
Photo via Town of Quartzsite - Facebook
The Town of Quartzsite would like to lease its Colorado River water entitlement to the Central Arizona Water Conservation District.

The state of Arizona is telling the federal government it does not endorse a water leasing deal between the Central Arizona Project and the Town of Quartzsite.

The non-endorsement doesn’t mean the deal is dead, just that a major regulatory voice isn’t on board.

Quartzsite, near Arizona’s western border, has a right to 1,070 acre feet of Colorado River water a year. But it has no way to get that water to town and has not used its entitlement. In order to shore up its current system of wells, Quartzsite is proposing a deal to lease the water to the Central Arizona Water Conservation District.

The CAWCD, which runs the Central Arizona Project, would use the water for groundwater replenishment in central Arizona.

In a letter to federal Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the Arizona Department of Water Resources said it doesn’t endorse the deal. Part of its rationale is that, according to ADWR, the water has never been used within the Quartzsite area, something required in the town’s federal water contract.

The decision could affect a more controversial water transfer proposed for Mohave County. There, the CAWCD’s groundwater replenishment arm wants to buy farmland and put a portion into a rotational fallowing program. The water tied to the fallowed land would be used to meet a portion of the groundwater replenishment obligations of the CAWCD.

Bret Jaspers was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2017 to 2020.