Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Water Law in Mohave County, and How it Effects our Aquifer

Water Information for Mohave County

I have more phone calls on this than anything else regarding the buying and selling of vacant land. In answer to your questions I have spent a lot of time in the past studying water laws for Arizona. I think the information provided below as well as the attached article with my notes should help you in your decision to move forward with projects here. I know Jim Rhodes has in fact spent 6 million on proving the adequate water supply for adding literally millions of residents to our area. However with the housing collapse and the demographics proving that our area, and our nation already has enough homes then I think the highest and best use for the time being is for farming. The fertile soils, dry climate, and huge underground aquifer from the closed Hualapai Basin make the area ideal for a wide variety of diverse crops. From pistachios, walnuts and  almonds, alfalfa, grapes to row crops we have land for it all.

The Hualapai (wall-uh-pie) Valley and Sacramento Valley ( Golden Valley) is being purchased by large farmers with agendas. With purchases recently from Quality Nut, Alldrin Bros.and interest from Paramount and others we are seeing large former ranch tracts of land that went largely undeveloped for years go into production for farming, especially permanent crops like nut trees, row crops and wine grapes.

Our aquifers are in the Northwest portion of the state and so far don't have any type of regulation.
Outside of AMAs and INAs, groundwater may be withdrawn and used for reasonable and beneficial use without a permit. Use of this groundwater, however, does require the filing of a notice of intent to drill with ADWR. Within AMAs, groundwater use requires a permit. Groundwater withdrawal permits (which allow for new use of water) are limited to certain specified activities. Arizona groundwater law requires certain criteria to be met for each type of withdrawal before a permit can be issued. In addition to rights granted through permits, three other types of groundwater withdrawal rights exist within AMAs. The first is grandfathered groundwater rights (Agricultural, Type 1 and Type 2 IGFR). These rights are based on historic use of groundwater for five years prior to the designation of the AMA. Most grandfathered rights are appurtenant to the land, but some are not and may be purchased or leased from the owner (Type 2 only). Withdrawal rights can also be granted to municipal water providers, private water companies, and irrigation districts within AMAs, enabling them to provide service to their customers (Service Area Providers). Finally, small domestic wells are exempt from the regulations within an AMA. Users of small domestic wells may withdraw ground water for non-irrigation purposes with just filing a Notice of Intent to drill. Usually the well drilling company does this as part of their services. .

Outside an AMA a developer or city is required to have the state review its plans to determine if the development has an adequate water supply, as opposed to an assured water supply, for 100 years.  However, unlike developments within AMA boundaries, the developer can legally choose not to include water information in its filing with the state which automatically triggers a finding of “inadequate water” supply.  Although such a finding cannot, in and of itself, halt construction or lot division.  Nonetheless, the initial seller (aka developer) must disclose the state’s finding of inadequate water supply, which will be stipulated the AZ Department of Real Estate’s Public Report, subsequent sales do not have to include the disclosure.

As most of our sales are to California growers with water woes, I am asked first about the water. The water availability here is from an underground aquifer. You will need to drill wells between 800 to 1200 feet deep but once you do that there is a seemingly unlimited amount of water that may potentially be being pushed in from the Colorado River into our aquifer. We have wells in this area consistently producing 2500 to 3000 gallons per minute. We also have no regulations as of yet for water usage so long as the water you pump out is put to "beneficial use," and farming fits this use requirement. From what I understand if we ever are put into an AMA or active management area you would have your water usage grandfathered in.  Please visit these websites for more information:  


Please look at this site as well for more information, I have also attached and printed it so you can see where we are at with this. Go to page 9 and read from the star down.

The consensus at the meeting is that we are using more water than what is being replenished to our aquifer. However that number is unknown. The last time the wells that ADWR looks at were looked at was in 2006. During that time water levels went down or up depending on what well they looked at so therefore it is unsubstantiated at the current time. They don't plan on checking water levels again until 2017 in our area.

We do know that the Hualapai Aquifer holds approximately 37-40 million acre feet of water down to 400 meters. Below that is more water that goes significantly deeper but they figure it is too deep to reasonably draw water from. The usage right now is 6600 acre feet per year that is being drawn out for residential purposes and this amount is not being replenished. However the ag has not been measured as of yet.

They do feel that in time we will need to be regulated with an AMA or INA. That information is attached. If and when this happens then anyone with ag or commercial wells will be grandfathered in and no new wells for ag or irrigation purposes from that point on can be drilled. This will bring great value to anyone here that already has wells in for these purposes and at that point "water rights" will be established.

For the time being it is still the wild wild west. You can do what you want with the water and there is no regulation whatsoever. I would suggest proving your model with the trees. If it proves to be financially feasible then be prepared to buy land like crazy and then punch wells in like crazy before regulation. I think regulations will still be 2-4 years out and when that happens then you want to already have all the wells in place that you want for the time being.

Justin Chambers, with Chambers Realty Group is right in the middle of this highly productive agricultural area with an office in Kingman. This dedicated land agent will assist you with permanent plantings, row crops, or any other agricultural land sale. In addition, the staff will take care of your residential or commercial real estate needs in the local area. At Chambers Realty Group we believe in putting the client’s needs first. We turn challenges into successes every day. If you want to know more about the area and the properties available, contact us and let us know how we can help. We are Mohave County's largest provider of land.

No comments:

Post a Comment