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CAP Walks Away From Mohave County Land Deal

Farmland in Mohave Valley
Bret Jaspers/KJZZ
editorial | staff
Farmland lies on either side of Route 95 in Mohave Valley. Some is actively farmed, and other lots are not.

The agency that runs the Central Arizona Project decided to drop a proposed purchase of farmland in Mohave County. It’s a victory for the Colorado River communities that were resisting the sale.

The groundwater replenishment arm of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD) had wanted to buy2,203 acres of farmland for $34 million. The plan was to let some of the land go fallow and send the water tied to those fields into central Arizona. That water would be applied to the agency's obligation to recharge underground aquifers.

Mohave County communities along the river protested over many months and many meetings. They repeatedly appealed to the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District, which would have had to change a resolution that currently prevents water from leaving the district.

“We want to be able to have the wealth that that water provides, in terms of making sure that our economic development is secure,” said County Supervisor Lois Wakimoto, who led the charge against the deal.

Wakimoto called the CAWCD decision a victory, but only a “skirmish in the battle.” She believes the land’s current owner, the hedge fund Water Asset Management, will try again to make money off the property and the water rights that come with it.

“Water has become a commodity. And we have to be very, very protective of what small portion of that allocation that we have,” she said.

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