Arizona revokes water permits for Saudi Arabia-owned alfalfa farm
Apr 23, 2023, 7:15 AM
(Photo by SANDY HUFFAKER / AFP)
PHOENIX — Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes announced that drill permits for a Saudi Arabia-owned alfalfa farm in La Paz County have been revoked.
Two deep-water wells were approved for Fondomonte Arizona LLC eight months ago, which Mayes called “unconscionable” given the state’s need to preserve water.
“For too long, our state leaders have been asleep at the wheel while this crisis has only grown,” Mayes said in a tweet. “Well, with new state leadership and the ever-increasing urgency of the issue, now is the time for the state government to get serious about regulating groundwater across Arizona.”
Just 8 months ago, Arizona state agencies approved new deep-water wells in La Paz County for a Saudi-owned company to pump thousands of gallons of water per-minute.
I can tell you that today – just before Earth Day – that’s not happening. Those drill permits have been revoked.
— AZ Attorney General Kris Mayes (@AZAGMayes) April 21, 2023
Mayes said last week in a letter to the Arizona Department of Water Resources that there were inconsistencies in the permit applications and urged the department to scrutinize any new applications from Fondomonte.
She called for improved coordination between the Arizona State Land Department and ADWR.
Several large corporate farms in western and southeastern Arizona have come under criticism for using large amounts of water as the southwestern United States is experiencing a severe drought.
In some cases, neighbors have complained that the corporate farms have used so much water that neighboring wells have run dry. In addition, Arizona faces the possibility of losing substantial amounts of Colorado River water when the federal government announces new action to combat low water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead.
The AG wrote that she is aware of reports that residential and commercial wells in the area near the farm have been experiencing dewatering.
Fondomonte applied for two 1,200-foot, 3,000-gallons-per-minute wells on Aug. 23. They were approved on Aug. 29.
The company grows alfalfa — a water-intensive crop — to ship back to Saudi Arabia to feed livestock.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.