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MVIDD board approves agricultural water use resolution

September 5, 2018 GMT

MOHAVE VALLEY — Requests to extend the opportunity to put agricultural contract water to beneficial use drew the attention of Mohave County officials during Tuesday’s Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District board meeting.

“They had two items where they had the ability to not vote for extending or renewing and so they could have made some of that water available for those who are in line for additional water,” said Mike Hendrix, Mohave County manager. “I just wanted to remind them of our application — that wasn’t necessarily the county opposing those (decisions), just a reminder.”

In April, Mohave County Board of Supervisors approved the $250,000 purchase of 15 acres of farmland in the water district to provide the county with better standing in potential legal actions against the water district.

“To farm alfalfa, you need 7 acre-feet (of water) per acre,” Hendrix said. “The county’s 15 acres has 3 acre-feet per acre. We’ve put in an application for an additional 4 acre feet per acre — from time to time issues have come before the board where they’ve had the option to remove water from allocations and make it available for those in line and are requesting additional water. I wanted to remind them that the county has our application in and we’re still looking for that additional water.”

An acre-foot of water is about 335,851 gallons.

Two agenda items before the board requested extensions of time for the farmers to put water to beneficial use on their contracts. Water allocations not put to beneficial use can be revoked all or in part by the board.

One contract is held by Herb Kai, MVIDD board member, and another is held by John Kai & Jihong Trustees.

Both farmers had wells needing repair and had requested extra time to put the water to beneficial use while repairs are being made. The board voted to require a status check in November on the progress made on Herb Kai’s well.

In the past few years, John Kai has used only 16 and 17 percent of his allocation and the year before that used 29 percent of his water, said Mark Clark, MVIDD manager.

“At the end of this year if he’s still only using 19-25 percent, the board has the option of pulling that water back and put it somewhere else because it’s not being beneficially used,” said Chip Sherrill, MVIDD board chairman.

Mohave County District 5 Sup. Lois Wakimoto told the Daily News that the farm in question has an excess of 500 acre-feet of water not being used.

“If this person retains the water, there’s value to that,” Wakimoto said. “They did not change the water allocation, depending on the use in the future. And there are people waiting for water.”

Board members also approved Resolution 2018-02, continued from meetings in June, July and early August while staff worked to clarify language and requirements for the entitlement. A portion of the language change included “If the agricultural water user fails to meet the requirements stated above, the board may determine upon on notice to the user and in consideration of all facts to revoke or reduce the water users entitlement for lack of beneficial use in accordance with the terms of the agricultural contract,” along with unchanged considerations.

Members also approved two applications for preliminary water allocations, including one application for 41 residential lots in the amount of 13.94 acre-feet of water for use in Sunset Palms and a second application for 41 residential lots in the amount of 13.94 acre-feet of water in Patriot Estates.