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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : latest news February 05, 2016

8/4/2014 6:01:00 AM
CWAG forum
Legislative candidates agree 'no' ban on lawns, pools; split on assured water supply rules
Joanna Dodder Nellans
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - Candidates for Legislative District 1 offered more than 125 audience members information Saturday morning about how they would handle water issues if elected.

The entire forum focused on water issues. It was sponsored by the Citizens Water Advocacy Group. Candidates answered 10 questions from CWAG as well as the Prescott audience.

All the LD1 candidates attended the forum. Rep. Karen Fann, Noel Campbell, Sean Englund and Linda Gray are competing in the Republican primary for two House seats, facing Democrat Frank Cuccia in the general. Sen. Steve Pierce is unopposed in his last election before he faces state-mandated term limits.

They all agreed on some issues, such as whether they support bans on new lawns and pools. They all answered no, often citing the free market. They also agreed on the need to change Senate Bill 1525 so local communities have more flexibility on development impact fees. The 2011 law requires cities to finish projects within five years after charging impact fees, and limits what they can charge impact fees on. Again, several candidates cited their preference for local control.

A few cities that were going too far ruined it for everyone, several others said. "When there's a bad apple, it does spoil the barrel," Fann said.

The candidates disagreed about whether the Legislature should modify an existing law to make it easier for counties to require 100-year water supplies from new subdivision developers. Right now it takes a unanimous vote.

Campbell, Cuccia, Englund and Gray said it should be a simple majority, with several mentioning local control is best.

"You shouldn't be building a project where you can't provide water," Campbell added.

Fann said a supermajority should be required, while Pierce favored a unanimous vote or supermajority depending on the size of the county.

None of the candidates supported creating an active management area for the Big Chino Valley, where the state would enact restrictions to preserve groundwater. All opposed the idea except Campbell, who said he'd have to analyze the pro's and con's.

While they all said they want to protect the Verde River, most didn't explain how they'd do it as the panel moderator asked.

"Protecting the Upper Verde River is vital to everybody," Englund said.

"We need to protect it," Gray agreed.

"I think you'd have to go a long ways to find someone who wants to damage the Verde River," Pierce said.

Reversing some of the severe cuts to the Arizona Department of Water Resources would help, Pierce said.

So would legislation giving water credits for rainwater harvesting, and building a wastewater treatment plant near the Verde headwaters to inject treated water back into the aquifer, Fann said.

When asked how the Legislature can encourage people to conserve water, every candidate supported some kind of action.

Englund and Campbell supported tax rebates for low-flow water fixtures, Cuccia supported general incentives, Gray liked education and incentives for low-flow fixtures, and Campbell wants a state fund that offers low-interest loans to repair leaky water pipes.

Fann cited her bill seeking to test the feasibility of large-scale rainwater harvesting, as well as a bill that would have phased out older water softeners that use 4,000 gallons of water and 700 pounds of salt per year. Other legislators killed both bills.

Both Fann and Pierce supported healthy forest legislation that would help thin out forests that became overstocked after decades of wildfire suppression in the 20th Century.

As for future water needs, all supported some kind of importation into the Prescott Active Management Area. Gray mentioned a Middle Verde River pipeline from the Camp Verde area.

Pierce and Englund supported desalination plants next to oceans as technology improves, while Englund likes the idea of trading the desalinated water for more Colorado River water via a pipeline from Lake Powell.

Campbell said desal is too expensive, but he likes the Powell idea. He also cited holding tanks instead of septics in rural areas so wastewater could be collected, treated and recharged.

Fann added low-flow fixtures, large-scale rainwater recharge areas, xeriscaping and the Big Chino wastewater treatment plant in Chino Valley as ways to stretch water supplies.

"All these options are ugly," Cuccia said, but government is going to have to force people to conserve. The Big Chino pipeline to Prescott is the least expensive new source, he said.

He supported building a San Diego desal plant in exchange for more Colorado River water for Arizona. While it would cost a bundle, three northern border states have plentiful waters for importation here, he said.

Follow Joanna Dodder on Twitter @joannadodder

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, August 05, 2014
Article comment by: Get Out Of The Same Old Rut That Led us To The Current Water Mess

All, these future leaders live in a dream world!

Pierce and Englund's mentioning desalination puts them in a special corner of La La Land!


$1,000,000,000 to build a plant! $2,000,000,000 to build a pipe line and provide pumps to lift the water into Mile High Prescott! That's $30,000 for every man, woman, child and baby in the Prescott AMA! After that little $3,000,000,000 bill, then there is the very considerable power bill to consider!

To suck the Big Chino Down, drying the Upper Verde Up, demonstrates MORE OF THE SAME lack of understanding, lack of caring, lack of concern for 'future Prescott' as past "leaders,/planners/decision makers" have demonstrated by getting us into this water mess in the first place!

1. Cap population growth!
2. Initiate, ENCOURAGE Micro and Macro rain/snow water catchment and utilization!
3. Recycle, retreat every drop of waste water and allow it to immediately percolate into the Granite Creek gravels east of Chino Valley! This will halt the MASSIVE evaporation-waste of this water by the local golf courses!
4. Change water rates for the Guzzlers, if a family is using sustainable amounts of water ~35 Gallons Per Capita Per Day (GPCD), then the rates will be very low! Above that....VERY, very high!

Posted: Tuesday, August 05, 2014
Article comment by: Yer Planning for a Flat Earth

If any of the candidates would consult with some our tax funded State University atmospheric physics, forestry and ecology professors, they will tell you man caused climate and consequent environmental changes are accelerating. This is the main driver of drought and forest fires. The very forest that is required to consume CO2 and give oxygen. This is crisis time, Folks. Catastrophic releases of frozen methane is the pending 6th extinction, and it is already happening.

Coal is about 40% of the problem and the low hanging fruit for conversion to renewable energy sources. SRP is a member of the corporatist ALEC lobby as are the majority of Republicans in the House and Senate. And so are the Corporation Commissioners, for those following the solar rate issue.

AlEC in addition to their 100 or private corporations of Koch industries with business in oil and gas exploration, pipelines, refining and trading, coal and other carbon product logistics, timber and consumer paper products and climate denial, is largely funded by the Koch brothers.

Now add it all up.

Posted: Tuesday, August 05, 2014
Article comment by: O O

The big rub is that all these rancher/developer/politicians want all of us the public to pay for a 250 million dollar pipeline so they can sell their ranch land. Without water ranch land is almost worthless. Why should the public pay the freight for these people?

Posted: Monday, August 04, 2014
Article comment by: No Solutions Without Population Cap

While they thrust and parry the Prescott production wells drop three feet a year!

PV's wells even more!

The problem is caused by poor past and current planning allowing too many people into an area which has a limited amount of sustainable water!

Pierce and Englund do not have the slightest idea of reality when they open their mouths and the word "desalination" spews out!

Face it you "potential leaders", your love of development and greed has got us all into a very precarious water situation!

All of your retoric is in the wrong direction unless the very foundation is a strict and immediate population cap!

Posted: Monday, August 04, 2014
Article comment by: Concerned Citizen Bellesi

After attending the water forum and reading The Courier's excellent summary of what transpired I was more convinced than ever that our current crop of candidates have no new or fresh ideas. Just like the "me to" group of Governor candidates they either are running against Obama or preaching to our fears as to why we can't do certain things. Hopefully, we independents can come with a majority to prevent the worst of them from being elected or reelected..

Posted: Monday, August 04, 2014
Article comment by: Water Pipe Dreams

All of the water importing schemes are pipe dreams, and the sooner we can stop talking about fantasies the sooner we can start getting realistic about the need for conservation and growth limits.

Desalination is extremely expensive and energy intensive and is barely feasible even for coastal cities. When you add on the cost of pumping fresh water inland, it's completely out of the question for the Prescott area.

Importing water from the Colorado is another fantasy. The Colorado River is already over-allocated. Water levels are way down at Lake Mead and Lake Powell, and are expected to drop further. Las Vegas (which gets most of its water from the Colorado) is getting increasingly desperate, and (as a result of the CAP agreement) California's water rights trump Arizona's if things really get tight. Even Phoenix and Tucson will have to cut back, and there's no surplus at all for other Arizona cities like Prescott to tap into.

The sooner we (and our political candidates) can educate ourselves and face up to the true water situation, the sooner we can stop talking about fantasies and start looking at actual solutions.

Posted: Monday, August 04, 2014
Article comment by: GONE FISHING


Posted: Monday, August 04, 2014
Article comment by: Frank Cuccia


I stated that all the importation options were ugly, being that it will triple to quadruple current prices.

There are just too many people living at the brink of financial devastation to envision this kind of price increase would not push them over the brink.
We are the 8th worst state in Senior Poverty, how are these people going to pay for such an increase.

In today's economy, Rates of that magnitude, will force millions to move, and preclude others from moving here. PROPERTY VALUES?

We must do what ever we CAN to push this need to import water further down the timeline.

I don't understand how we would allow any new construction to occur, in the state, without requiring that these buildings are done responsibly, as it relates to our scarce water supply.

And in today's world, responsibly means utilizing water conservation technologies, that will result in a near net zero water usage.

Lastly, as it relates to desalinization. I didn't mean to convey the idea that I am sold on this process. I just mentioned that if we were going to desalinate in San Diego, we should trade to Calf. the water converted for their water rights from the Colorado, so we would not have to pipe as far.

All choices are ugly, and therefore we should pursue conservation. Wholeheartedly!

Posted: Monday, August 04, 2014
Article comment by: Bane Capitol

Well at least if they legalize Marijuana, we can all high and have a giant Toga Party, Dance around while Rome Burns (wells runs dry) and they (Republican "Leaders") do what they do best, Fiddle around, Ignore, Lie and DENY any Crisis!

"They all agreed on some issues, such as whether they support bans on new lawns and pools. They all answered no" "Reversing some of the severe cuts to the Arizona Department of Water Resources would help", Pierce said. I've lived here over 30 years and seen Nothing but DECLINING Water Well levels, the State Declared Ground Water Mining danger 25 years ago, This area has NEVER achieved "Safe Yield", EVER. Were down to pumping water that has been in the ground for 1000s of years, WHAT is the Source, Any Source that will replace it just to get us back to a Safe Yield point?

Republicans have done Nothing except Grant More Permits and BUILD. Prescott's Senior Citizen Mayor grins while he signs 100 Year Assured Water Supply certificates. I doubt we can LIE & DENY another 10 years even. We will surly get what we deserve and Pay the Price.

If they're not going to be accountable and do their jobs and serve the Community, I'll make it my mission in life to see them Exposed and as Politically Miserable as possible.

Posted: Monday, August 04, 2014
Article comment by: Richard Butler

Prescott and Yavapai County voters will need to guide the LD1 candidates towards having the courage to discuss the long term solutions to continued water issues within their districts. Not 1 LD1 candidate emerged as a winner at the CWAG water forum. Band-Aid solutions are not the long term fix for Prescott's water crisis. All LD1 candidates know the long term solution, but lack the courage to discuss what they know in fear of losing votes. Prescott needs to be careful to choose a candidate that will get busy writing bills that protect and defend the Big Chino Valley and Verde River. Pumping the Big Chino is not a "winner." Talk is cheap, enough of the Band-Aid fixes intended to correct our water issues. The solution to water problems has everything to do with how Prescott grows in the future. Have the courage to move forward without depending on the Big Chino as a safety net.

Posted: Monday, August 04, 2014
Article comment by: Lakes in the Desert

Why will nobody challenge the 800# gorilla in the room? SRP "owns" our surface water rights, as a result of deals made a century ago when nobody imagined expanding population in the high country.

It is time to work together to fight SRP and take back our surface water rights. Use imminent domain if necessary and void those ancient water deals, forcing a more equitable arrangement.

Posted: Monday, August 04, 2014
Article comment by: Tom Steele

Most all comments from candidates were weak and inadequate. I suggest to get an assured 100 year water supply by less than a unanimous is disingenuous. Let's see where the local municipal wells are in terms of being redrilled to greater depths. And no candidate mentioned mitigation prior to opening the Big Chino Pipeline to keep the Upper Verde flowing. It must be up to people to press our mayors and councils to become schooled in our actual water position. Elected officials seem to fear the developers and their clout. This will be our undoing and bring on drastic water conservation if not addresses soon.

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