Proposed $21 million deal sparks bitter fight over Colorado River water

CAP Canal. / File photo

By Ian James | Arizona Republic

A private company and the town of Queen Creek are proposing a water deal that would leave 485 acres of farmland permanently dry near the Colorado River and send the water used on that land to the fast-growing Phoenix suburb.

The company GSC Farm LLC is seeking to sell its annual entitlement of 2,083 acre-feet of Colorado River water — about 678 million gallons — to Queen Creek for a one-time payment of $21 million. The town and the company asked regulators at the Arizona Department of Water Resources to endorse the water transfer, and the agency is holding a series of four meetings this week to hear comments on the proposal.

At the first meeting in Phoenix on Tuesday, the proposal was strongly opposed by local officials and state legislators from counties along the river who say they fear the deal would harm their farming economies and open the door for more water to be traded away to Arizona’s thirsty cities.

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