Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Water Insecurity: U.S. Water Rights. Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs Shuts Down Corrupt GOP Deal with Saudi Arabia for Arizona Water. October 3, 2023


Huge win for water rights for Americans in the drought plagued southwest

·        Troy Matthews

Democratic Governor of Arizona Katie Hobbs is pulling the plug on water leases held by Saudi Arabian companies in that state in a massive win for local water rights in the southwest. 
Hobbs announced on Monday the termination of the lease for Fondomonte Arizona, a Saudi-based company that operates an alfalfa farming operation in La Paz County in western Arizona in the Colorado River Basin. 

Saudi companies lease huge swaths of land along the Colorado River border between Arizona and California where they use ground water to grow alfalfa to make hay for cattle ranches in Saudi Arabia. 

Fondomonte’s lease under Hobbs' predecessor Republican Governor Doug Ducey allowed them to take as much ground water as they wanted to grow alfalfa without any payment to the state

"Today, I canceled one of Fondomonte’s Butler Valley leases and announced the State will not renew three other leases in February 2024," Gov. Hobbs said in a post on Monday. 

She continued, "I’m taking action where my predecessor wouldn’t and holding Fondomonte accountable. It’s unacceptable that they have continued to pump unchecked amounts of groundwater out of our state while in clear default on their lease."

Alfalfa farms are the biggest water taker in the increasingly dry Colorado River Basin. At a time when communities in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, and California are having to ration their water usage due to unprecedented drought conditions brought about by climate change, corporate alfalfa farms use millions of gallons of water to grow alfalfa each year to support the cattle industry.

As Lake Meade and Lake Powell in the southwest reach extinction level lows, corporate alfalfa farms use amounts of water equivalent to a small lake to sustain a single crop. The Saudi farms used so much water local residents were complaining that their ground water wells had run completely dry. 
"We know by anecdotal evidence that wells are being de-watered by these big farming operations," Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes said. "We know that land is subsiding. We can see that with our eyes. We have existing law that we don’t think is being followed."
Though much more action is needed to maintain a sustainable drinking water supply in the southwest, this move by Katie Hobbs is a huge first step in reclaiming local water sovereignty from corrupt business arrangements with the Saudis.


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