Monday, April 15, 2024

The governor of Arizona shared that a farm owned by people from another country has stopped using underground water on state property to provide water for their cows abroad1

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A farm from Saudi Arabia, which was previously allowed to extract a lot of groundwater to grow alfalfa in Arizona, has stopped watering its crops on state land in Butler Valley. Governor Katie Hobbs and the Arizona State Land Department confirmed this after checking recently. The farm, called Fondomonte, has halted pumping water in Butler Valley and is now preparing to leave the property.

Governor Hobbs claimed responsibility for this, saying it happened because she decided not to renew Fondomonte’s leases on state land in that area. She emphasized that it’s important to hold people accountable, make the most of state land, and ensure Arizona has enough water.

Fondomonte used to have four leases in Butler Valley Basin, but Arizona officials told them in October that three leases wouldn’t be renewed and the fourth was canceled because of a problem with payments.

Apart from the state lands, the farm also owns land in Arizona and California. The parent company, Almarai, owns around 10,000 acres in Arizona and about 3,500 acres in Southern California. They use water from the Colorado River for irrigation there.

The lawyer representing Fondomonte didn’t respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Fondomonte isn’t the only foreign-owned farm in Arizona. Al Dahra, a company from the United Arab Emirates, also grows alfalfa in rural parts of the state. Some other big farms from different states have been taking advantage of loose groundwater laws in Arizona for years.

When Kris Mayes and Governor Hobbs came into office, they promised to tighten the rules for foreign-owned farms that lease land from the state and pump unlimited water. Studies have shown that some groundwater sources are being used up too quickly.

Last year, Mayes announced new limits on Fondomonte’s water use. The Arizona Department of Water Resources stopped Fondomonte from drilling wells that could pump 3,000 gallons of water per minute. That’s much more water than an average household uses in a year.

Governor Hobbs pledged to keep protecting Arizona’s water so that future generations can thrive.

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