Thu, May 23

Springer's plan should open doors for Prescott municipalities

The biggest stumbling block in the path of the formation of U.S. Sen. John McCain's Verde River Basin Partnership has been the Prescott area municipalities.

They have insisted that the upper echelon of the partnership consist only of elected officials. They don't want to relinquish control of the partnership ‹ some contend control of the region's water ‹ to environmental groups.

They've even taken their segregationist policy a step further by forming their own river-protection group, the Upper Verde River Watershed Protection Coalition.

Since they don't want to listen to the reasoning of environmental types or anyone from the Verde Valley about the Verde River Basin Partnership, here's a suggestion.

Don't listen to the environmentalists.

Don't listen to anyone from the Verde Valley.

Instead, listen to someone from your side of the mountain, namely, Yavapai County Supervisor Carol Springer of Prescott.

At Monday's meeting of the river partnership, Springer laid out a plan for the makeup of the executive committee of the partnership. It would include 34 members.

Springer's plan calls for six members from four counties (Yavapai would get three), 14 from municipalities (including eight from the Prescott Active Management Area), four representing state government agencies, four from federal agencies, two from the county's two Indian nations, one from the one from the Verde Valley Water Users Assn., one from private water companies, and one Salt River Project official representing Phoenix-area water customers.

Once this executive committee is formed, its 34 members could decide among themselves whether to allow for further representation from environmental organizations, Springer said.

Springer's plan is obviously well thought out. It provides for fair input from all the important stakeholders to the Verde River. It does not close the door to participation from environmental organizations. In fact, their presence undoubtedly will be welcomed on the various subcommittees that provide guidance to the executive committee.

Ms. Springer did her homework. Her proposal is right on the money.

The Prescott-area municipal officials have no reason now not to join ranks with the rest of the county in planning for the future health of the Verde River.