PHOENIX – An Arizona official on Wednesday rejected a company’s proposal to permit groundwater to be pumped from extreme northwestern Arizona to a growing area of southern Nevada.
Department of Water Resources Director Herb Guenther followed the recommendation of an administrative law judge by denying Wind River Resources’ application, the department announced.
The Arizona-based company wants to pump water from the Muddy Creek aquifer in the Mormon Wells area north of Beaver Dam and transport it to the Virgin Valley Water District in nearby Mesquite, Nev.
The application was the first submitted to the Department of Water Resources for a decision under a 1989 state law that set criteria for transporting water out of Arizona. The law was enacted seven years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that groundwater is subject to the U.S. Constitution’s protections for interstate commerce.
Wind River Resources can seek a rehearing, file a new application challenge the denial in court or not contest it.
Maxine Becker, an attorney for Wind River, said the company’s management and its lawyers hadn’t seen Guenther’s order and could not immediately comment on it.
The application drew opposition from Beaver Dam and Littlefield residents who expressed concerns that the project could make their wells dry.
Project opponent Bob Frisby welcomed Guenther’s decision. But he said he expects Wind River’s backers will keep trying because of the value of the Arizona groundwater and its use supporting booming Nevada development.
Wind River’s application called for exporting 800 acre-feet per year to start and increasing to 14,000 in 2045. An acre-foot of water is about 325,000 gallons, enough to supply two average families of four for a year.