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Arizona Edition: First of its kind water deal in La Paz County still facing scrutiny

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A decade ago, a company purchased nearly 500 acres of land in Cibola, Arizona, a quiet community near the Colorado River in La Paz County.

The company, Greenstone Resource Partners LLC did lease out the land to farmers for a while, growing alfalfa and cotton. But after a few years, in a first of its kind deal, the company stopped farm activity and sold the water rights to the Phoenix suburb of Queen Creek.

The town paid $11,500 per acre foot and Greenstone pocketed a $14 million profit.

Despite some grousing about the deal and pushback from other growers, irrigation managers, and politicians, as well as ongoing litigation launched by Yuma, Mohave and La Paz Counties, that water is now flowing to Queen Creek - one of the fastest growing communities in the nation.

All of this against the backdrop of apocalyptic language about the Colorado River and its dwindling supply of water AND as most water entities linked to the river fight to preserve what they have.

The story captured the attention of Maanvi Singh, a reporter at the British newspaper The Guardian.

Singh traveled to Cibola and spoke to locals about the deal but ended up discovering a lot more.

The article, 'Water is more valuable than oil': the corporation cashing in on America's drought, was published April 16th.

Maanvi Singh joined us to talk more about what The Guardian investigation uncovered.

Lou grew up in Tucson and has a long family history in the state of Arizona. He began his public radio career in 1988 at KNAU in Flagstaff as a classical music DJ and has been hooked on public radio since, transitioning to news after trying his hand at several other careers in publishing and commercial broadcasting. Lou has a degree in American Studies from Arizona State University and was KAWC's Morning Edition host for two and half years before becoming News and Operations Director.
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