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Koch Article on Arizona Depleting its Groundwater Supply Published in New York Times

January 10, 2023

The New York Times

Natalie Koch

Natalie Koch


"Arizona Is in a Race to the Bottom of Its Water Wells, With Saudi Arabia’s Help," written by Professor of Geography Natalie Koch, was published in the New York Times.

Despite Arizona experiencing the worst drought in more than a millennium, the state is depleting what remains of it's precious groundwater. Much of it goes to private companies nearly free, including Saudi Arabia’s largest dairy company, Almarai.

A 2022 report published by The Arizona Republic showed that the Arizona State Land Department has been leasing 3,500 acres of public land to Almarai for a questioningly low price.

"The case has prompted calls for an investigation into how a foreign company wound up taking the state’s dwindling water supplies for a fee that might be as low as one-sixth the market rate. But the focus on the Saudi scheme obscures a more fundamental problem: pumping groundwater in Arizona remains largely unregulated," writes Koch. "It’s this legal failing that, in part, allows the Saudi company to draw unlimited amounts of water to grow an alfalfa crop that feeds dairy cows 8,000 miles away."


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