Water agency’s land purchase rattles California farmers

BLYTHE, Calif. (AP) — The nation’s largest distributor of treated drinking water became the largest landowner in a remote California farming region for good reason: The alfalfa-growing area is first in line to get Colorado River water.

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s play in the Palo Verde Valley, along the Arizona line, tapped a deep distrust between farm and city that pervades the West over a river that’s a lifeline for seven states and northern Mexico.

Farmers recall how Los Angeles’ modern founders built an aqueduct a century ago to bring water from rural Owens Valley.

The Los Angeles agency denies its $256 million purchase is part of an orchestrated plan and has sought to reassure farmers in Blythe, a farming town of about 13,000 people.

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