Pinal County Farmers Ask For $20M To Drill New Wells

By Kathy Ritchie
Howard Fischer, Capital Media Services
Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 - 8:32am
Howard Fischer/Capital Media Services
Rep. David Cook in January 2019.

Pinal County farmers say they need an additional $20 million to help drill new wells to replace the Colorado River water that they’ll be giving up. A Globe lawmaker has helped advanced a measure in hopes of getting that money.

Republican Rep. David Cook convinced the Senate Appropriations Committee to give the farmers the money. He argued that they were promised the cash as part of the drought contingency plan enacted by state lawmakers in January.

Dan Jones, an attorney for several irrigation districts, reiterated Cook’s point.

“The promise made during these negotiations was, ‘We will collectively give you money that you would not have to be able to produce water you otherwise would not produce by 2023.’”

Those comments, however, drew a stern rebuke from one Democratic senator, who was a key member of the committee who negotiated the drought plan. Lisa Otondo called it a half told story, saying the farmers are entitled to water, “if available.” Otondo said there was never a promise to make or pay for infrastructure to get that water.