Farmers’ advocacy group hopes for repeal of groundwater rule









Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.

George Washington Carver




Water rule solution sought

While work gets underway to form a committee tasked with finding an alternative to a controversial Arizona Department of Water Resources rule, one farmers’ advocacy group still hopes for an outright repeal of the measure.

“There’s still a cloud hanging over our property values,” said Tiffany Shedd, spokeswoman for Farmers Against State Takings, an advocacy group that formed to challenge the rule.

ADWR’s plan calls for a gradual phase-out of agricultural extinguishment credits.

Extinguishment credits — also known as groundwater credits — may be sold by farmers in full or in part when farmland is retired and used by buyers, usually developers, within the same water management area.

Under the rule, farmers may continue to pump groundwater as long as they can afford to do so, but their allocation of credits would have started a gradual decline next year and by 2053, they would be eliminated.

Although the credit phase-out plan is aimed at protecting the aquifer after years of over-pumping, those opposed believe it zaps the value out of farmland throughout the county.

The rule change caught the attention of area growers in May, and throughout the summer, the issue heated up as FAST formed and began urging area lawmakers to take action against the rule.

In August, ADWR announced it would temporarily delay implementation of the plan to allow a soon-to-be-formed committee time to analyze the rule and offer potential alternatives.

District 8 Reps. T.J. Shope and Frank Pratt were appointed by the water agency to lead the committee and select its members.

That committee is still being formed and is expected to begin meeting sometime in October.

Shope told the Casa Grande Dispatch that dozens of names have been suggested for the committee, including farmers, developers and even retired people who want to be involved in the process.

Fifteen members will be selected.

Earlier this month, ADWR filed a request with the Arizona secretary of state officially asking for a five-year delay on the implementation of the phase-out rule. The temporary delay will automatically be repealed next Sept. 15, but by that time, the committee is expected to have alternatives proposed.

“That gives us about a year to work through the possible solutions,” Jeff Tannler, ADWR director of active management areas, said.

While many see the delay in implementation and the formation of a committee as positive steps, for FAST members, the efforts do not go far enough.

The group plans to fight for a repeal through legislative channels, and to garner support, it is reaching out to municipalities.

In August, the Casa Grande City Council passed a FAST-recommended resolution 6-1 calling for a repeal of the rule, and Shedd said similar measures will be brought to surrounding municipalities.



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Walter Unger CCIM, CCSS, CCLS

I am a successful Commercial Investment Real Estate Broker in Arizona now for 15 years and I worked with banks and their commercial REO properties for 3 years. I am also a commercial landspecialist in Phoenix and a Landspecialist in Arizona.





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