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Drought results in flood of concerns as lawmakers listen to concerned citizens

 

KINGMAN – Roughly 300 people from across Arizona attended Wednesday’s wide-ranging water discussion with state lawmakers.

 

The Mohave County Board of Supervisors’ auditorium was filled with people wanting to provide input to members of the Arizona Legislature’s Committee on Energy, Environment and Natural Resources – which includes Mohave and La Paz County’s District 5 Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City; Rep. Gina Cobb, R-Kingman; and Rep. Paul Mosley, R-Lake Havasu City.

If comments illustrate anything, it is that water issues are many and varied and deadly serious. People die when there is no water to drink, but the economic vitality of an entire region would disappear long before that would happen.

Kingman Mayor Monica Gates homed in on the proliferation of large farming operations in the Hualapai Basin surrounding Kingman at a time when far more water is being taken out than is going back in. Meanwhile, Lake Havasu City Mayor Mark Nexsen implored lawmakers to prohibit any more transfers of Colorado River water to Phoenix or Tucson.

Farmers in the Mohave Valley want a fallowing program put in place so the local irrigation district can sell water to the state’s population centers.

Mohave County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gary Watson urged lawmakers to fast-track approval of the Drought Contingency Plan, an agreement between Arizona, Nevada and California with a caveat that rapidly evaporating Lake Mead be replenished.

Mohave County absolutely depends on the Lake for tourism dollars and power generation.

And while lawmakers were there to listen, the unspoken urgency at the meeting seemed to suggest the time for talk has past, and now is the time for action.

But Mesa Rep. Rusty Bowers cautioned that water rights protect those who own them so every decision regarding water policy in the state has to be a balancing act.

water meeting lawmakers web

Sen. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, and Rep. Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, front, lead the Legislative Committee on Energy, Environment and Natural Resources. Behind them are members of the committee, including District 5 Sen. Sonny Borrelli, left, Rep. Gina Cobb, fourth from the left, and Paul Mosley, third from the right. Doug McMurdo/The Standard

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