By Brian Wright
Casa Grande Dispatch
The board was tasked with voting on proposed amendments to the Pinal County Development Services Code regarding regulations on adequacy of water supply in subdivisions that fall outside Active Management Areas. AMAs are areas with heavy reliance on mined groundwater and have state oversight.
The supervisors voted 2-1 against adopting a water adequacy ordinance, with Chairman David Snider casting the lone “yes” vote.
From the beginning, the town councils in Kearny, Winkelman and Mammoth — all located in the county’s rural eastern area — were against the proposed changes to the ordinance.
Supervisor Pete Rios, who represents those areas in District 1, said he could not support the changes because his constituents were adamantly opposed to them.
At the board’s Oct. 24 meeting, Rios said the residents felt it was premature to adopt changes to the ordinance because there isn’t any imminent development of homes in the area.
Currently, authorities outside an AMA can approve subdivisions without an assured water supply.
When county staff members initially met with residents of Mammoth to discuss the issue, the residents expressed concern about the impact to existing wells, and some were worried the changes could deter growth in the community due to the cost of water analysis.
Clark Smithson, supervisor of District 2, agreed with Rios and said he had spoken with residents of all three municipalities involved.
“I have a very difficult time voting for something that will require cities to do things they don’t want to have to do and to go against their wishes,” the board’s lone Republican said.
On Wednesday, Rios said he wouldn’t support something the residents in those communities considered an “obstacle” to their growth and development.
Snider said if the ordinance were adopted, the supervisors and the county planning commission would have discretion over whet er they deemed an area had an
adequate water supply to develop — it wouldn’t be an automatic denial.
“It is a permissive law,” he said. “My contention has always been that … water has always been a necessary ingredient to growth and development. If you turn on the tap and there’s nothing there, that seems to be a dangerous thing for anyone who is going to inhabit that development in the future.”