U.S. Water News Online
PHOENIX -- A state official says Arizona should refuse to
permit groundwater to be pumped from a region of extreme northwestern
Arizona to serve a growing area of neighboring Nevada.
An Arizona administrative law judge recommended the Department of
Water Resources director deny the application by Wind River
Resources, an Arizona limited liability corporation.
Wind River wants permission to pump water from the Muddy Creek
aquifer in the Mormon Wells area north of Beaver Dam and transport it
to the Virgin Valley Water District in nearby Mesquite, Nev.
The application, which has drawn opposition from area residents,
called for exporting 800 acre-feet per year to start and increasing
to 14,000 in 2045.
Some residents in Beaver Dam and neighboring Littlefield worry the
project could leave their wells dry.
Judge Thomas Shedden said in his recommended order the application
should be rejected because Wind River failed to update key aspects,
provided inaccurate information and did not submit hydrological
studies on the proposed pumping's probable impact on the Mormon Wells
That leaves the Department of Water Resources without enough
information to decide whether Wind River had satisfied Arizona's
requirements, including whether the exported water would be used for
a "reasonable and beneficial" use in another state, Shedden said.
Wind River contended it submitted all the necessary documentation
to support its application and that its project would not harm
existing water users in the lower Virgin River basin.
Wind River also contends the state law requiring it to obtain
Arizona's permission to export water is unconstitutional. Shedden
said that argument is premature.
Department Director Herb Guenther has until Nov. 29 to make his
decision, which could be to accept, reject or modify the
recommendation, department spokesman Jack LaVelle said.
Wind River is expected to go to court if Guenther denies the
State Rep. Nancy McLain, a Bullhead City Republican whose district
includes the Beaver Dam area, welcomed Shedden's recommendation and
said it fit with testimony she heard during hearings on the
McLain said she opposed the proposed transfer. "I don't think we
have enough water in Arizona to ship it off to other places," McLain
The Arizona regulatory action on the proposed transfer comes amid
skirmishing among Southwestern states on other regional water issues.
Utah lawmakers have drawn fire in Nevada for requiring a federal
study of a Las Vegas-based water agency's plan to draw groundwater
from eastern Nevada near Utah, while Arizona has asked the federal
government to settle a dispute over proposed changes to a Colorado
River drought plan.
Arizona, Nevada and Utah are among seven states that draw water
from the Colorado River, along with California, Colorado, New Mexico
A bill to toughen the current Arizona law on exporting water was
proposed earlier this year in the Legislature. Though the Wind River
Resources project was cited as an impetus for the bill, officials
said the proposed legislation could not have applied retroactively to
the pending application.
The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Trish Groe of Lake Havasu
City, also cited an anticipation that growth from the Las Vegas area
would spill into other parts of Arizona's Mohave County.
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