PHOENIX (CN) - Arizona unconstitutionally swiped $12.5 million from the Arizona Water Banking Authority and intends to grab another $5.4 million, the Central Arizona Water Conservation District says. The water district, which manages the Central Arizona Project, claims that the money deposited by two Nevada water commissions to finance the purchase, delivery and storage of Colorado River water - not to help the state stave off its budget woes.
Gov. Jan Brewer signed Arizona Senate Bill 1001 on Jan. 31, 2009 to "sweep" agency money into the Arizona general fund to "provide adequate support and maintenance" for the state, according to the complaint in Maricopa County Court.
The water district says the $8.5 million was part of a water management deal signed in 2002 that guarantees Nevada water from the Colorado River and Lake Mead. The money also was to be used to store of Colorado River water underground.
Nevada is to pay $23 million per year until 2018, and paid an additional $100 million to ensure that Central Arizona Project water users do not "suffer a direct a real loss of water supply."
The Arizona Water Banking Authority stores unused Colorado River water underground in aquifers to use in case of shortages, according to the complaint. Each year the authority pays the Central Arizona Water Conservation District for costs of delivery and storage.
The Central Arizona Project delivers water to 80 percent of Arizona water users.
The district seeks writ of prohibition to stop Gov. Brewer from spending the $12.5 million already collected. It also wants to stop Arizona Treasurer Dean Martin from transferring an additional $5.4 million from the Arizona Water Banking Authority.
The Water District is represented by Robert Lynch.