Citizens’ initiative to overturn Douglas AMA voided

Cochise County, Arizona
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July 31, 2023 — Less than a year ago, voters in Cochise County, Arizona, agreed to create the Douglas Active Management Area (AMA) that regulates groundwater withdrawals in the basin. The decision, the first of its kind in the state, has been upheld by county officials who rejected a new proposal aiming to repeal itOpens in a new tab..

Despite the presence of other AMAs in Arizona, the Douglas AMA was unique as it was the first to be passed by a public vote. A recent initiative was introduced to overturn this landmark decision. The counter-initiative was set to appear on the Cochise County ballot in November, proposed by a local resident.

The new initiative faced a legal challenge from the Environmental Defense Action FundOpens in a new tab.. The Fund claimed that the proposal had not been filed correctly. James Barton, the Fund’s lawyer, pointed out that the supporting signatures were delivered in two batches, a practice forbidden under Arizona law and confirmed by state courts.

Given these findings, county election authorities decided the legal challenge was valid, resulting in the removal of the counter-initiative from the upcoming ballot.


Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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