Watson Lake, Prescott
Peter Aleshire, consulting publications editor
Groundwater water use is rising.
The water table’s dropping.
And the temperature’s climbing.
No wonder no one wanted to answer Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District board member Larry Bagshaw’s awkward question just before the board voted to resume issuing a limited number of water meters, two years into a moratorium that has halted most new development in the unincorporated community.
“Let’s deal with reality,” said Bagshaw. “Fact number one: State law requires an assured 100-year water supply.”
Well – that’s not quite right. The state requires a 100-year water supply for any new development in the groundwater basins receiving water from the Colorado River – mostly in Maricopa, Pinal and Pima counties. The state agreed to groundwater management in those urban counties in return for a federally-funded, $5 billion canal from the Colorado River to Tucson. Rural counties – like Gila, Navajo and Apache – aren’t covered and the state legislature has repeatedly refused to give the counties the power to regulate groundwater pumping.
“Let’s take a little poll,” said Bagshaw. “How many agree if we start releasing meters it reduces water supply year to year?”
“Water supply is based on what’s coming out of the wells – and whether it meets demand. You can’t predict going forward,” said Board Chairman Cory Ellsworth.
Ah, well: There’s the rub.