Water Grab?


Here on the Parker Strip, we’re Arizonans and we’re Californians.

The river we call home straddles the state line joining these two great states. Our diverse community lives on both sides of the river and holds many connections to the metropolitan areas on either side of us: to Los Angeles, Orange County, the Inland Empire and San Diego to our west, and to the Phoenix Valley, Prescott, Flagstaff and Tucson to the east.

We’re interested in the news in both states, our friends and families are on both sides, and what happens in the economies of both affects us too. River culture is a hybrid culture, with the flavor of the two states running through it. When the main road connecting Arizona and California gets closed, we feel it.

So when it comes to water rights – the fight over this river and the fresh water it carries – we don’t have a horse in the race, except that we’re concerned that this precious resource is managed well and serves the southwestern United States in a sustainable way.

Anxiety is escalating. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey says he thinks California may try to take Arizona’s water through federal action of some kind, preparations for which some suspect may already be happening, shrouded in secrecy. But the Daily Sun reports that this may be unlikely:

“Outside Arizona, this view is disputed by many water experts. Four say Arizona has no reason to worry about a California water grab. It’s ‘ludicrous’ to suggest California could undo the historic contract divvying up Colorado River water that was signed by seven governors and the president, says Patricia Mulroy, a researcher who used to run Las Vegas’ water utility. And so far, Arizona officials have offered no evidence California even plans to make a run at [Arizona] water.”

From Parker Dam, two aqueducts snake out through the desert in opposite directions, the Metropolitan Water District taking water into Southern California and the Central Arizona Project taking it into central and southern Arizona. The water they carry today isn’t enough. More stringent conservation efforts are taking shape, and restrictions on water usage are being imposed in many places. But the future is uncertain. And in that political climate, authorities are in great need of answers, so water rights are a hot commodity.

The Colorado River Indian Tribes in Parker has the most senior water rights on the Colorado River, according to the Tribes’ special attorney for water Dr. Margaret J. Vick, who is an expert on Colorado River law. Over the past several months, as the Tribes have commemorated 150 years of the CRIT reservation, Chairman Dennis Patch has been reminding his people of the need to protect their water, and to exercise good judgement in how it is used and managed. Like Ducey, Patch says there is a risk that those who need it most will try to grab it.

Good water management is a message that all authorities are echoing, with less supply and more demand than ever before for the water of the Colorado River.

And as water has become headline news again in California and Arizona, here on the Parker Strip we continue to enjoy this precious resource, not only for the way it comes out of our faucets, but as the beautiful oasis that lies at the center of life here.

John Wright


  1. Crit diverts water at headgate dam

  2. Gary White

    Quit watering lawns and filling swimming pools. That should reduce consumption about half!

  3. California Water Wars, Owens Valley/Mono Lake et.c. and Los Angeles. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Water_Wars Back in the late 80s, there was a Ranegras acquifer water grab by some corrupt politicians/ businessmen/water speculators who wanted our underground water for Phoenix. Bouse was in the center of this fight and the community banded together to stop this. It helped we had a CAP Water engineer living in the community and, with the help of Channel 5 (an independent TV station back then), local town representatives went to the legislature….the day before HR Bill 9666 (I kid you not!) was to voted upon….and stopped it.

  4. I forgot to mention, a while later, some of the politicians involved with this scheme were among those arrested during AZScam.

  5. Laurie Wise

    It’s not just States, it can also be large growing cities vs rural areas. http://repository.asu.edu/attachments/125978/content/Bergelin_asu_0010N_13517.pdf Bouse was in the center of one of these fights over water rights a few decades ago. That time, Bouse was considered a “pest hole” of contention and the big city politicians/water speculators thought the community would cave in and sell the rights to the Ranegras Water acquifer to them…..we didn’t, fought and won.

  6. Dear Parker Live readership,
    As of THE INDIAN CITIZENSHIP ACT OF 1924, there are no more “Indians” within the original meaning of the U.S. Constitution…only U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” entitled to no more and no less that every other non-Indian U.S./State citizens. There is no such thing and COLORADO RIVER INDIAN TRIBES! You are being lied-to by politicians! There are no “Indian Reservations” either! U.S./State citizens residing on what is commonly known an as “Indian reservation” are merely tenants with right of “USE AND OCCUPANCY ONLY” with title to the land held by We, the People. These “tenants” have no say in how natural resources of land owned by We, the People and not a renter. Sincerely, Paul R. Jones-Federal Indian Programs Consultant and Researcher

  7. The infamous CRIT Tribal Chairman Dennis Patch. His statement here about water conservation is a big lie. I never ever heard him say anything about water conservation. All he worries about is not letting the white people Know anything how the CRIT Government is spending the federal tax dollars that all the white people pay into. Then devising different ways he’s going to get his dirty hands on it.

  8. Süd Schiller

    Get your pitchforks and torches; let Nestle know they aren’t welcomed bottling the water anymore.

  9. Rhea Clapperton

    The wasteful use of water reminds me of long tern wefare users, they have an allotment of foodstamps, healthcare and cash, but they choose to make bad decisions in how they use it and then they complain how bad they have it. The people of California have known since the 70″s that water should be conserved. but agriculture, golf courses, govt buildings and personal usage etc. have gone unchecked for decades, now they want more water to replace their poor decisions. Shame on them.

  10. Ducey. Typical fear monger. He runs a state into the ground and Arizonans have their heads in the sand. Typical.

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