October 19, 2022

Gallego Introduces Legislation to Crack Down on Water Abuse Amid Historic Drought

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, introduced The Domestic Water Protection Act of 2022, a bill aimed at addressing the abuse of water resources by foreign governments in drought-stricken states like Arizona. The legislation would impose an excise tax on the sale and export of water-intensive crops grown by foreign companies or foreign governments in areas experiencing prolonged drought.

 "While Arizona experiences the driest conditions in centuries, our water is being given away in a sweetheart deal with Saudi Arabia,” said Rep. Gallego. “Saudi Arabia has stated their intention to rob Arizonans at the gas pump, but they are also already stealing our water. We need to act to stop our state from being sucked dry by a nonsensical agreement. Arizona’s aquifers are meant to serve Arizonans, and this bill will make that happen. While we still desperately need a comprehensive strategy to mitigate the threat of drought, we must take immediate action on the pilfering of our groundwater.”

The Domestic Water Protection Act of 2022 directly addresses water abuse by:

  • Creating an excise tax on the sale and export of any water-intensive crop by any foreign company or foreign government in areas experiencing prolonged drought.

  • Imposing the excise tax at a 300% rate, reflecting the unjustifiable disparity in land lease rates between domestic and foreign producers in Arizona

  • Implementing the tax in a manner consistent with international trade agreements.

Currently, Arizona is leasing farmland to Fondomonte, a Saudi company which usesArizona groundwater to grow alfalfa exported to feed cows in the Middle East. Arizona’s State Land Department reports that the company uses enough water annually to supply 54,000 homes, and at an estimated cost to the state of $3 million to 3.9 million a year.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva is an original co-sponsor of the bill.

For the full text of the bill, click here.