Hobbs signs bill extending time to claim grandfathered water rights in Douglas AMA



(The Center Square) – Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs signed a bill on Monday allowing those who use the Douglas Active Management Area groundwater another six months to apply for grandfathered rights.

House Bill 2016 is an emergency measure backed by Rep. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, in hopes to give people more time to adjust to the fact that the basin became an AMA in December 2022. An AMA means it is under more regulations involving the “withdrawal and use of groundwater,” according to an Arizona Department of Water Resources document.

“Since the day I took office I’ve made clear my commitment to supporting rural communities in managing their groundwater,” Hobbs said in a statement on Monday. “This legislation will give Douglas AMA water users more time to submit their water right applications to ADWR, and I’m confident that these local leaders who have volunteered to serve on the Groundwater Users Advisory Council will provide invaluable input as the water conservation programs are developed for the basin.”

In a statement, Griffin criticized making the Douglas groundwater basin an AMA in the first place and said that making sure people can apply for grandfathered rights through the Arizona Department of Water Resources is necessary.

“Recognizing grandfathered private property rights to groundwater that was being used prior to the designation of the Active Management Area is essential to maintaining the long-term economic health and property tax base of the county and to providing certainty for individual groundwater users in the basin,” Griffin stated.

“Residents in the Douglas basin must navigate a complex web of red tape to obtain a grandfathered right, and this makes it challenging for residents to take the steps necessary to defend their own interests,” the Republican added.

The basin covers a significant area of southern Arizona in which many farmers and ranchers reside.

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