U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) expressed guarded satisfaction with the Arizona Supreme Court’s recent unanimous decision to uphold certain water rights claims in favor of the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR).
The Bill Williams Water Rights Settlement Act opens the door for resolution of a territorial dispute regarding a watershed in the west-central portion of Arizona. The Bill Williams River forms the boundary between Mohave and La Paz counties.
“(The) opinion by the Arizona Supreme Court upholds state water rights and affirms ADWR’s critical role in protecting these rights,” Gosar said. “I’m disappointed that the plaintiffs in the original case asserted a number of baseless claims at taxpayer expense… . This unnecessary legal challenge could have easily been avoided, but unfortunately the Mohave County Supervisors have potentially put Arizona taxpayers on the hook for even more fees resulting from this frivolous lawsuit and today’s loss in court.”
The measure will facilitate settlement of watershed claims among the Hualapai Tribe, the U.S. Department of the Interior acting on behalf of itself and as trustee for the tribe, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, and Freeport-McMoRan, which operates the Bagdad Mine on the land.
“I believe this case can serve as a teachable moment for Arizona’s citizens, water users and Supervisors throughout the state,” Gosar said. “Rather than trying to upend a water rights settlement paid for with private money and involving private property, we should all work together and encourage commonsense solutions that benefit all parties. Above all else, today’s ruling is a win for private property owners, the Hualapai Tribe and the people of the great state of Arizona.”
Gosar's offices said the bill is good for both private property owners and local economies; supports thousands of jobs, including 175 existing mining positions; facilitates an Indian water rights settlement; and will result in a significant net water benefit to the basin.
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