Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Farm from another country has stopped using underground water on land owned by the state to provide water for cattle abroad, according to the governor of Arizona

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A farm from Saudi Arabia that used to pump a lot of groundwater to grow alfalfa in Arizona has stopped watering its crops, as announced by Arizona’s Democratic Governor, Katie Hobbs. Hobbs, along with the State Land Department, revealed that Fondomonte, the Saudi farm, has ceased pumping water in the Butler Valley groundwater area and is taking steps to leave the land.

Hobbs claimed responsibility for this change, stating that it resulted from her decision to terminate Fondomonte’s leases on state land, part of a broader effort by her and Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes to regulate water use. She emphasized the importance of accountability, maximizing the value of state land, and ensuring Arizona’s water security.

Fondomonte, which previously held four leases in Butler Valley, had three leases not renewed in October, with the fourth canceled due to default. The farm, owned by Almarai Company, operates in both Arizona and California, using Colorado River water for irrigation.

Despite attempts, Fondomonte’s lawyer did not respond to CNN’s request for comment. The farm is not the only foreign-owned one in Arizona, as Al Dahra, a UAE-based company, also farms alfalfa in the state. Mayes and Hobbs, upon taking office, aimed to address foreign-owned farms exploiting lenient groundwater laws, leading to overpumping in some basins.

Mayes announced restrictions on Fondomonte’s pumping last year, revealing that the Arizona Department of Water Resources had revoked permits for wells capable of pumping 3,000 gallons per minute—far exceeding typical home usage. Hobbs pledged to continue decisive actions to safeguard Arizona’s water for future generations in her statement.

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