The City of Prescott’s proposed Water Policy modification – Good or Bad?

Anyone who has been watching the local news lately knows that the City of Prescott has proposed a Water Policy modification that would allow the City to supply water to property outside of the City limits.  This is a change to the current Water Policy that prohibits this without an Intergovernmental Agreement with an adjacent public agency.

The policy modification was discussed during the proposed Stringfield Ranch annexation and then again during the AED annexation discussions.  The resultant debate was lively and drew both criticism and praise. We will attempt to provide the pros and cons below so that you, the general public, can draw your own conclusions.

First, however, one must understand that the Prescott Active Management Area (PAMA) includes all of Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, Dewey-Humboldt and all of unincorporated Yavapai County in-between.  The PAMA was identified by the Arizona Department of Water Resources as our primary water source that is currently in “overdraft” (more water is going out than is coming in through recharge).  Accordingly, Prescott’s Water Policies do not just affect Prescott, but affect the water supply of the entire PAMA (as does the decisions and actions of the other included agencies).

Proponents of the Water Policy modification would tell you:

  1. This change will dramatically reduce the promulgation of exempt and unregulated water wells that reduce our aquafer levels without limitation or accountability
  2. The modification includes a corresponding requirement to hook-up to the City’s wastewater treatment system that results in the recharge of our aquafer
  3. The change will eliminate the need for a development to install septic systems that endanger the water quality of our aquafer
  4. The modification will encourage water conservation by metering and regulating the potable supply of water to otherwise unregulated parcels of land
  5. The change will result in a reduction to the overdraft in the PAMA
  6. The modification will provide the tools to the City of Prescott to better manage the water source in and around the City

Opponents of the Water Policy Modification will tell you:

  1. The modification will reduce citizen comment on issues of growth and water demand
  2. The change will reduce the City’s ability to manage growth
  3. The modification will increase the overdraft by encouraging new homes
  4. The change fosters a perception of lack of transparency by the City of Prescott
  5. The modification contradicts the Airport Specific Area Plan
  6. The timing of the modifications is frustrating negotiations with Stringfield Ranch and AED

The Prescott area is a wonderful place to live, work and play and it will always be in high demand for people to relocate and retire.  Additionally, the laws of Arizona provide that every property owner has the right to develop their property; they do not need permission from the City of Prescott or any other municipality, as long as they comply with local laws and ordinances.  Accordingly, it is clear that the City of Prescott cannot dictate IF a property is developed but can certainly influence HOW it is developed.

It is for this reason that we must advocate for the Water Policy modification, allowing the City of Prescott to have a positive impact on the water quality and quantity within the PAMA and indirectly influence positive growth through such policy.  We agree that annexation in conjunction with water supply is the best scenario, allowing the City to have the most influence on development and enjoy the corresponding taxation and regulation.  However, short of annexation, the Water Policy modification still inures to the benefit of the community and its citizenry.

CAP Mission:  Through collaboration with regional communities, we will advocate for responsible growth, a balance between economic stability and ecological sustainability, judicious management of natural resources and exceptional healthcare, education and community services.

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