Senate Passes Gosar-Flake Water Rights Settlement Bill, Awaits President’s Signature

Dec 2, 2014 Issues: Natural Resources, Energy and Public Lands, Land Exchange

For Immediate Release
Date: December 2, 2014


Contact: Steven D. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after the Senate unanimously passed the Congressman’s sponsored legislation, H.R. 4924, the Bill Williams River Water Rights Settlement Act:

“I am thrilled to see the Senate act in a timely manner to pass my common sense legislation. Once again, we see that the strong merits of this settlement are so evident that it is one signature away from having the unanimous approval of the entire legislative and executive branches of our government. That is truly a rare and commendable achievement in a time of divided government.

“Today’s action by the Senate further demonstrates our commitment to protecting jobs, precious water resources and private property rights in Western Arizona. Again, I want recognize and commend Arizona Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain who worked hard on the Senate companion of my legislation. I would also like to thank the entire bipartisan House delegation for their support of this bill. Finally, I would like to thank all the parties involved in reaching the agreements approved by this bill including the Hualapai Tribe, Freeport McMoRan, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and the Department of Interior.”


H.R. 4924 facilitates the achievement of a fair and equitable settlement of certain claims within the Bill Williams River watershed among the Hualapai Tribe, the U.S. Department of the Interior acting on behalf of itself and as trustee for the Tribe, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, and Freeport McMoRan Minerals Corporation.
The first of the two agreements codified by this legislation allows for certain private water rights owned by Freeport to be severed and transferred to provide water certainty for one of the company’s mining operations. The Bagdad Mine has an economic impact of $339.1 million dollars to the state of Arizona, and sustains nearly 4,000 direct and indirect jobs. Under this first agreement Freeport will also donate 3,400 acres of private land to the Arizona Game and Fish Department to be managed as part of the Multi-Species Conservation Program. Finally, this first agreement will benefit waters users throughout the West as Freeport has agreed to cap its withdrawals of water in the Wikieup Wellfield at 10,055 acre-feet, despite being entitled to nearly 40,000 acre feet of existing water rights. Thus, Congressman Gosar’s bill will result in an overall net water use reduction in the basin of approximately 30,000 acre-feet per year. 

The second of the two agreements approved by H.R. 4924 will secure certain water rights for the Hualapai Tribe as well as two non-federal contributions that will be provided by Freeport to the Tribe for an Infrastructure Fund and an Economic Development Fund. In addition, there is a provision in H.R. 4924 that will allow for new public access for hunting and fishing on the lands involved with this legislation. Furthermore, the local counties benefit from the good paying jobs and tax revenue associated with the continued use of the mine. An economic analysis from W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University found that the associated impact from the Bagdad Mine on Mohave County’s economy is approximately $16 million and 175 jobs.

Preliminary Congressional Budget Office Estimates indicate that the bill costs nothing to the federal government and will not score. Congressman Gosar has posted a fact sheet for H.R. 4924 on his website which can be found HERE.