Rep. Ruben Gallego digs in for fight against foreign companies over Arizona groundwater

Oct 20, 2022, 11:21 AM

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)...

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

PHOENIX — An Arizona lease of farmland to a Saudi company is straining water resources, U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego said, and the bill he introduced this week aims to make the situation more fair.

“They do not need to be taking our water, which is very precious, especially in an area where we’re not sure we can recharge the aquifer,” Gallego told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Thursday.

“The purpose of this bill is so that at least it will level the playing field, that there is some punishment for these foreign companies that try to buy our land and take our water.”

The Democrat submitted Domestic Water Protection Act of 2022 on Wednesday in response to a yearslong agreement between the Arizona State Land Department and Fondomonte, a company based in Saudi Arabia that grows water-intensive alfalfa outside of Phoenix.

Under the agreement, Fondomonte uses enough groundwater to supply 54,000 homes a year, according to data from Gallego’s office.

And they’re paying less for the water than Arizona farmers, said Gallego, who sits on the House Committee on Natural Resources.

“The water they’re actually using costs more than the alfalfa, but we don’t actually charge them for the water. So what we’re doing in this bill is charging them 300 times excise tax if you use water-intensive plants, if you are a foreign government and if you’re doing it in a drought-stricken area. This hits all three,” he said.

Gallego said the bill doesn’t violate any international trade agreements.

“We haven’t heard any pushback [from the Saudis],” he said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Andrew Ormsby, 22, was arrested on Wednesday, police said. (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office photo)...

Phoenix police arrest man accused of fatally shooting victim found in West Valley alley

Andrew Ormsby, 22, was arrested on Wednesday for his involvement in the shooting death of Roy Orozco, 24, Phoenix police said.

3 hours ago

Guests mill about at a previous Guild Indian Fair & Market on the grounds of the Heard Museum in Ph...

Heard Museum in Phoenix holding 66th annual Guild Indian Fair & Market this weekend

The Heard Museum in Phoenix is holding its signature event this weekend, the 66th annual Guild Indian Fair & Market.

5 hours ago

This undated image provided by Mikel Desmond shows his brother Marcus Tessier, who turned up in Dem...

Associated Press

Missing teen with autism found in New Mexico, about 200 miles away from his Arizona home

A missing teen with autism has been found in New Mexico — about 200 miles away from his home in southern Arizona.

7 hours ago

FILE - A group of migrants walk along the border in a remote part of the Arizona desert as they joi...

Associated Press

Bill in Arizona would punish migrants who enter country illegally

Republicans in Arizona are broadcasting a tough border stance with legislation aimed at punishing migrants who enter the United States illegally.

8 hours ago

Mugshot of Brandie Gotch, who faces multiple charges for an alleged rampage against children at a P...

Kevin Stone

West Valley mom accused of driving through park, injuring a child, while her kids were in truck

A woman was arrested Tuesday for allegedly driving her pickup truck through a West Valley park and hitting a child after she thought her kids were being bullied.

10 hours ago

Three former Arizona Department of Education employees are accused of obtaining funds from the stat...

Former Arizona education employees accused of stealing money from ESA program

Three former Arizona Department of Education employees are accused of obtaining funds from the state's school voucher program for personal use, authorities announced Thursday.

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Rep. Ruben Gallego digs in for fight against foreign companies over Arizona groundwater