Arizona county aims to protect water as foreign firms arrive

AP News
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Posted: Nov 06, 2015 3:45 PM

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Leaders of a rural Arizona county want help from the governor and other state officials to protect the water supply as companies from the Middle East move in to grow alfalfa.

Companies from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bought thousands of acres of land in the Arizona desert for large-scale farm operations.

La Paz County leaders are upset about the trend, saying the value of the water isn't reflected in property sales or leases. They want the land value reassessed, the ability to charge a fee based on water depletion and other measures.

Officials say a lack of groundwater regulations in rural Arizona could invite waste from the companies, some of which are moving to the U.S. after running out of water in the Middle East.