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Cochise County officials throw out ballot initiative to remove Douglas groundwater regulations

Less than a year ago, voters in Douglas approved a ballot initiative to create stricter groundwater regulations through what’s called an Active Management Area. At least for now, it will remain in place after county officials threw out a separate initiative to eliminate the AMA. 

There are other active management areas throughout Arizona, but the Douglas AMA in southeastern Arizona was the first in the state to be approved by popular vote.

But then a new initiative, filed in July by a local county resident, aimed to rescind that historic AMA.

It was set to be on the ballot in Cochise County this November.

But a  suitbrought by the Environmental Defense Action Fund argued the new initiative was not properly filed.  

James Barton is a lawyer representing the fund.

"Most importantly, they turned their signatures in in two batches, and that’s plainly not allowed under Arizona law, and it’s been confirmed by Arizona courts," he said. 

County election officials found the lawsuit had merit, and removed the initiative to rescind the AMA from the ballot. Ann Waters, the Cochise County resident behind the new ballot initiative, declined to comment about the county's decision or her reasons for filing the new initiative. 

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.