The Mohave County Board of Supervisors this week authorized Phoenix-based law firm Clark Hill to pursue possible legal action against the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, in the case of a pending water transfer agreement between the city of Queen Creek and a La Paz County farm.
Cibola-based GSC Farms is owned by Scottsdale-based Greenstone Acquisitions, which in 2019 entered into an agreement to transfer more than 2,000 annual acre-feet of Fourth priority Colorado River water rights to the city of Queen Creek, in Central Arizona. And for the past three years, Mohave County officials have appealed to the Arizona Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to stop the deal. Most recently, the county sought an environmental analysis prior to the agreement being finalized – and effort that was ultimately rebuffed this month by Reclamation officials.
According to county records, the bureau did not feel that the transfer agreement constituted a “major federal action” that would significantly affect the quality of any human environment, and no environmental impact statement would be required.
On Monday, Mohave County Supervisor Travis Lingenfelter sought other legal options to prevent the agreement from reaching final approval by the federal agency.
“I move that the board authorize Clark Hill to initiate legal action against the Bureau of Reclamation and any appropriate parties, challenging the Bureau’s final environmental analysis of potential effects from the town of Queen Creek’s proposed GSC Farm water transfer agreement,” Lingenfelter said.
The county’s governing board approved that motion by unanimous vote on Monday. Now, county employees are expected to communicate with other river communities or agencies with the possibility of joining whatever legal action may unfold.
The water transfer agreement was approved in 2021 by Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Thomas Buschatzke. Mohave County renewed objections to the transfer last month in a letter to Buschatzke, citing heightened Colorado River water restrictions and lowering water levels at Lake Mead due to a prolonged drought throughout the Southwest.
Reclamation officials are expected to reach a final decision on whether to approve the proposed water transfer agreement later this year.