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Mohave County Supervisors Want Feds to Halt Colorado River Water Transfers

Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District

The Mohave County Board of Supervisors is concerned some water rights to the Colorado River could be transferred elsewhere under a plan by western Arizona farmers. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the board is calling on federal and state officials to intervene. 

They want Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to prevent any water from leaving the county. The call comes after a recent vote by the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District to fallow some area fields, and allow unused water to be temporarily sent outside the county. But the Mohave Supervisors say the water can’t be sold because it doesn’t belong to individual famers.

"If the water transfer were allowed to go through the water would pass down the river and be taken by the Central Arizona Project. It essentially takes the water from one area and takes the water and wealth and transfers it to another spot," says Mohave County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gary Watson.

The farmers who sit on the board of the Irrigation and Drainage District, however, claim the water is theirs. They say their plan to fallow fields is a conservation measure as Colorado River levels decline and forced cutbacks become more likely.

Any changes to water allocations first have to be approved by federal and state officials. The Mohave County Board of Supervisors is threatening a lawsuit if the plan moves ahead.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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