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Saudi company officially stops using Arizona water

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Cameron Arcand

(The Center Square) – The Saudi Arabian-backed company Fondomonte Arizona is officially no longer using the state's water resources. 

According to the governor's office, the State Land Department inspected the company's land leases in western Arizona's Butler Valley February 15, which determined that it was no longer irrigating. The company was estimated to have pumped over 5.3 billion gallons of groundwater in 2022, according to Arizona's Family

“Today is the start of a new chapter for Arizona’s water future,” Governor Katie Hobbs in a statement Thursday.

“I’m not afraid to hold people accountable, maximize value for the state land trust, and protect Arizona’s water security. I am proud to deliver this not just for the La Paz County community, but for the entire state of Arizona, and will continue taking decisive action to protect Arizona’s water so we can thrive for generations to come," the governor added.

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Her office also noted that it appears that Fondomonte is making strides in leaving after the governor canceled their leases on its thousands of acres of land in October.

"The Arizona Attorney General's Office worked closely with Governor Hobbs' administration on these inspections, which confirmed what we have suspected – Fondomonte has been in violation of its leases for many years," Attorney General Kris Mayes said in a statement at the time. 

"And while today's announcement is commendable, it should have been taken by state government much earlier. The failure to act sooner underscores the need for greater oversight and accountability in the management of our state's most vital resource," Mayes continued. 

However, the office said that the company has a pending appeal in court for the cancellations, even though the agreements ended February 14. 

The farms in the Butler Valley focused on growing alfalfa that gets sent back to the Middle East in order to feed cattle, according to the New York Times. Fondomonte is part of Almarai Co., which is a dairy company.