The Ak-Chin Indian Community will continue to receive up to 10,000 acre-feet of additional water from the Colorado River each year whenever there’s a surplus, thanks to a recent legal ruling.
The Ninth Circuit granted the Central Arizona Water Conservation District’s request to drop its appeal of a ruling that requires the district to deliver the extra water each year there’s additional water available, according to an article in Law360.
In the mid-1980s, the Ak-Chin Indian Community and the federal government entered an agreement outlining the tribe’s water entitlements, according to the Law360 article. Each year since, the Secretary of the Interior has ordered 75,000 acre-feet of water to be delivered to the Ak-Chin Indian Community through the Central Arizona Project, overseen by the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD). During years with surplus water available, up to 10,000 acre-feet of additional water was sent to the Ak-Chin Indian Community.
Each year, the water district delivered the surplus water upon approval from the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. However, in 2017, the water district announced that it would no longer deliver the additional water to Ak-Chin Indian Community starting in 2018. The Ak-Chin Indian Community challenged this decision, and was dropped. The ruling will continue to provide additional Colorado River water to the Ak-Chin Indian Community every year when there’s a surplus available.
The Ak-Chin Indian Community covers 22,000 acres in Pinal County, including the 15,000-acre Ak-Chin Farms. In the Law360 article, Ak-Chin Indian Community Chairman Robert Miguel noted the decision was consistent with the tribe’s long-standing interpretation of its water rights.
“The decision ensures Ak-Chin will continue to have access to its full water rights, which is critical to sustaining tribal farming operations. On behalf of the Ak-Chin Indian Community, we are pleased that CAWCD has accepted the District Court’’s ruling and that the parties can put this dispute behind them,” Miguel said.
Congratulations to the Ak-Chin Indian Community for maintaining their water rights!
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