U.S. Water News Online
FLAGSTAFF -- Gov. Janet Napolitano has been urged to throw
her weight behind getting the state's water claims adjudicated and
cutting out unlimited water use in unregulated subdivisions.
The calls came during a public hearing with about 150 people
attending at Northern Arizona University.
The governor's forum was the third of a series for Napolitano to
get input on her draft plan for dealing with the Arizona drought,
proposed in October. The state is in the ninth year of the worst
drought in modern times. advertisement
David Brown of St. Johns, chairman of the Apache County Board of
Supervisors, said water apportionment negotiations have been
"paralyzed" among the Navajo, Hopi, Apache and Paiute tribes, and
non-Indian interests seeking rights to some of that water.
"We need more help in forcing this issue to come to a head," Brown
said. "This is critical to any planning in northeastern Arizona."
Bill Ulfelder, a spokesman for the Nature Conservancy in northern
Arizona, said there are nearly 87,000 water wells in the region
exempt from groundwater extraction regulations, including about
20,000 in Yavapai County outside the Prescott active management area.
The state manages groundwater withdrawals within five urban areas for
what is considered a secure 100-year supply of water.
"There's got to be a lot more done to control wildcat subdivisions
and lot splits," Ulfelder said.
Camp Verde Councilman Tony Gioia said that recent studies indicate
that 55 percent more water is being taken out of the Prescott
groundwater basin than is being recharged, despite the management
Gioia also said that groundwater drawdown around Camp Verde,
outside the management area, has left only three of 14 wells
operating. He fears an ominous future as the Prescott area moves
toward pumping vastly more water from an area west of Camp Verde
considered to be in the headwaters of the Verde River.
The best solution for all, said Flagstaff Sierra Club spokesman
Andy Bessler, is to create a statewide active management area.
Last month, Napolitano ordered a 5 percent cutback in water use
among all state agencies and universities and called for incentives
to encourage cities and towns to have more stringent water
She also announced plans in November to create a so-called water
university that would tap the expertise of the state's three
universities and be a world-renowned center for finding solutions for
water and drought issues.
Many rural leaders have said that solutions start with changing
the habits of Valley dwellers. Per capita water use in Phoenix is
more than 200 gallons a day, about twice as much as that in
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