U.S. Water News Online
LAS VEGAS -- Residents in the northwest corner of Arizona
are gearing up to fight an unprecedented plan to pump groundwater
across the Nevada border to Mesquite.
"The general consensus is, nobody wants this," said Nikki
Stoddard, a Beaver Dam, Ariz., resident.
Almost 400 people filled a room at an elementary school in Beaver
Dam, Ariz., to hear about the proposal by Wind River Resources.
Dozens of people lined up to sign petitions against the water deal,
and many wore stickers advertising a Web site called
A banner along Interstate 15, which slices through the area, also
directs attention to the Internet site, which Stoddard helped
She called the Wind River application to the Arizona Department of
Water Resources a "test case" for others who would buy land in the
so-called Arizona Strip and sell groundwater to Nevada.
The fight dates to March 2005, when Wind River Resources filed an
application to export groundwater from Arizona for use in another
state. Arizona never has granted such an application.
Wind River wants to sell the water to the Virgin Valley Water
District, which serves the Mesquite area. The water would be pumped
from wells on property northwest of Beaver Dam and piped about 10
miles to Mesquite.
The company also wants to use the district's water system to
deliver water back across the border to supply development on another
part of the Arizona Strip.
Some residents in Beaver Dam and neighboring Littlefield, Ariz.,
worry that the project could leave their wells dry.
"They can't take this water into Nevada without having a negative
impact on Arizona," said Bob Frisby, whose Beaver Dam Water Company
serves about 1,000 customers on the Arizona Strip. "It will dry us
Wind River Resources spokesman John Michael said the water would
come from a different aquifer than the one supplying Beaver Dam and
Littlefield. He said the groundwater Wind River is after flows west
Michael accused Frisby and Jack Riley, who owns several thousand
acres along I-15 in Arizona, of whipping up opposition to the Wind
River project to protect their own interests.
He said Frisby wants a water monopoly on the Arizona Strip and
Riley wants to increase the value of his land along I-15 by scuttling
growth elsewhere in the area.
The water fight belies close ties between Beaver Dam residents and
neighbors in Nevada and Utah, where Beaver Dam residents go for
groceries, libraries and hospitals.
Mike Winters, general manager of the Virgin Valley Water District,
said a deal with Wind River could provide for growth in and around
Mesquite. Some predict the town population could top 40,000 within
Under the proposal, the amount of water piped annually from
Arizona to Mesquite would increase over the next 40 years from about
1,000 acre feet to as much as 14,000 acre feet.
Winters said the price of the water would start at about $200 per
acre foot and increase to about $400.
The district delivers about 5,500 acre feet of water a year to
18,000 customers in an area covering more than 310 square miles in
Nevada and Arizona.
Winters said the district owns the rights to some 12,000 acre feet
of water, enough to supply about 40,000 people.
For now, he said, his agency assumes it won't get any Wind River
The Arizona Strip also is growing, particularly Beaver Dam,
Littlefield and nearby Scenic. Some estimates put the area population
at more than 4,000.
Michael said Wind River Resources was developing its pipeline in
cooperation with a property owner in Scenic, where some 5,000 acres
were available for development.
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