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Colorado River Indian Tribes Get Money In Deal To Fallow Farmland

Colorado River Indian Tribes Seal
Colorado River Indian Tribes

The Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) in western Arizona announced a new plan to fallow farmland and store water in Lake Mead.

It’s a one-year deal to fallow 1,884 acres of land in exchange for a little more than $2 million. The program will allow the irrigation water to stay on Lake Mead, which is a top priority for the groups putting up the money: the federal Bureau of Reclamation, the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, the Environmental Defense Fund, Southern Nevada Water Authority, and Denver Water.

There is an option to fallow the same acreage a second year. The water saved, about 11,000 acre-feet a year, is less than 2 percent of the Tribe’s yearly entitlement.

Colorado River Indian Tribal members recalled chairman Dennis Patch this spring after the Arizona Daily Star reportedhe was in talks to lease out water. Patch was soon re-elected.

In announcing this fallowing program, Patch said the Tribal Council will make sure the tribe is "fairly compensated for this most precious resource. It’s a message the state and federal governments have heard loud and clear and this agreement is further proof that CRIT has an important seat at the table in terms of Colorado River water."

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