/ Modified mar 7, 2024 6:05 p.m.

Saudi company quits pumping in Butler Valley Basin, but still has other land holdings

Canceled and not renewed leases make up roughly one-third of Fondomonte's owned and leased land.

Hay Bales Stacks of hay bales sit beside an irrigation canal in Imperial Valley on June 20, 2023. Critics have called for reductions to the amount of alfalfa grown with Colorado River water. The particularly thirsty crop is mostly used for cattle feed.
Alex Hager, KUNC

Governor Katie Hobbs' office on Thursday announced the Saudi-owned company Fondomonte is "officially no longer pumping Arizona groundwater in Butler Valley.".

"After a recent inspection, the State Land Department has confirmed that as of February 15, 2024, Fondomonte is no longer irrigating on any of its Butler Valley leases," said a media release from Hobbs' office. "Visual inspections also confirmed Fondomonte has begun taking steps to vacate the property."

But the Butler Valley Basin leases represent roughly one-third of Fondomonte's holdings in La Paz County that AZPM located.

La Paz County GIS records show that Fondomonte owns at least 3,763 acres in an area south of Butler Valley, and an Arizona Department of Land spokesperson confirmed that a separate lease of 3088 acres in the Vicksburg/Ranegras Plain groundwater basin.

Fondomonte held four leases totalling 3,520 acres in the Butler Valley Basin. The Arizona Land Department informed the company that three of those leases would not be renewed and the fourth was being terminated, though the lease termination has been appealed.

Concern over Fondomonte's holdings in Arizona crept up after media reports that the company was growing alfalfa on the land for export to Saudi Arabia, where it fed livestock.

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