County water group to refine scope

The two groups reviewed some follow-up recommendations from retreat facilitator Mette Brogden of the University of Arizona's Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy. She suggests the committee be more explicit about short-term goals that will help it reach its long-term goals, and refine a mission statement based on supervisors' comments.

The supervisors and water committee talked about a few of those goals Wednesday, such as a water conservation program. The committee later agreed to further refine its short-term and long-term goals at its next meeting Nov. 20, after getting recommendations from its technical advisory group. Once the Water Advisory Committee comes up with a list, it will present it to the supervisors.

The Board of Supervisors created the committee in early 1999 to encourage people in the Prescott area and Verde Valley to work together and fight less often over Verde River Basin issues. The committee members include municipal elected officials, and all the municipalities are in the Verde River Basin.

Since 1999, other citizen-based groups have formed in this county to discuss water issues in the upper Agua Fria and upper Bill Williams river basins, and people in the Hassayampa River Basin are considering it. The Water Advisory Committee and its full-time Coordinator John Munderloh work with those groups, although they don't have representatives on the Water Advisory Committee.

Board of Supervisors Chair Lorna Street told committee members Wednesday that she would like to see a broader focus outside just the Verde River Basin. Besides part of Prescott and Prescott Valley, her district doesn't have any municipalities.

"I just have a tough time sitting here listening about how I should conserve water, and my district's not even on the maps," Street said.

A representative from one the Agua Fria group asked to speak about the topic, but Street didn't allow comments from the audience Wednesday.

The water committee also talked about getting more government organizations involved in its work, such as the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Arizona Game & Fish Department.

But at the same time, committee members expressed fears about doing more than the supervisors want them to do.

"We don't want to get our hand slapped again," Sedona Mayor Anita MacFarlane said.

She was referring to complaints early this year from Supervisor Gheral Brownlow that the committee was exceeding its authority by recommending the county outlaw groundwater use by future golf courses. That committee recommendation is the only one that the supervisors haven't adopted, although the supervisors have enacted other golf course water-use restrictions.

Brownlow reiterated his belief Wednesday that the committee was "trying to replace the planning and zoning commission."

No, the committee tried to identify water issues, said committee member Rob Behnke, who also is a Prescott City Council member.

"That's just basic logic," Behnke said.

Committee member and Cottonwood Mayor Ruben Jauregui agreed with Behnke.

"I think that was your perception of that," Jauregui told Brownlow.


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