Verde Independent: The City of Cottonwood has some control over water conservation and its allocation, but the County has very little. How might you encourage water conservation, and therefore Verde River conservation, given the County's limited resources and authority over water issues?
Joens: In spite of a county's constraints on making development decisions based on water availability -- court cases in Yavapai, Coconino and Mohave Counties have ruled against counties -- there are a number of things I will do as county supervisor for water conservation and river preservation. Whether we reside in a city or town, or in the country, we all live in the same watershed and use the same aquifers for our needs. Everyone wants to do their share to conserve. The University of Arizona Extension Service can partner with us on volunteer water conservation plans and programs. For county development, collaborative agreements between Yavapai County and cities and towns for recharge projects will offset pumping and bring the water budget into balance. I will look for grants that fund conservation programs including switching to low flow toilets and showerheads. Rainwater harvesting is another conservation measure that could be encouraged for watering of gardens, landscaping and livestock.
Verde Independent: The Verde Valley, by Yavapai County WAC estimates, could increase in population from its current 65,000 (±), to more than 200,000 in the next 35 years. In light of that future population, how will you help meet the water demands of these new residents, while at the same time making sure the Verde River continues to flow and continue to provide a healthy ecosystem and a healthy economy for the people of the Verde Valley?
Joens: The Central Yavapai Highland Water Resources Management Study (CYHWRMS) used population projections that were not census based. Cities and towns provided projections based on what they envisioned their populations to be. The recession has already changed the projections. Because the Yavapai County Water Advisory Committee has disbanded, we have no way to collaboratively update needed information. I plan to approach county supervisors and cities and towns to discuss creating a county-wide watershed committee with minimal costs. It will not be advisory. We will experience growth because we have private property in the Verde Valley. Growth will be constrained by the large percentage of public lands. We must manage growth with careful planning for water conservation and recharge to benefit aquifers and our rivers and streams. I was a member of YCWAC for ten years and the history of the organization and its accomplishments are part of my experience. This will serve District 3 residents well.
Verde Independent: What do you see as the main challenges for the future of the Verde Valley and what will you do to meet those challenges?
Joens: Transportation, transit and trails will take the kind of leadership I've provided with many upgraded streets in Cottonwood, a successful transit system, as well as collaborating with local communities to get $64 million dollars from ADOT to make Highway 260 into a safe bifurcated four lane highway. There have been enough deaths and maimings on this highway. We have to work together on Interstate 17 issues and Sedona-Village of Oak Creek's traffic congestion. Economic development and business and job creation are another value that I pledge to be highly involved with as county supervisor. Collaborating with cities and towns to bring businesses and jobs into our area will provide revenues that will help us keep taxes lower. Maintaining a forward motion on the collaborative Verde Front and water conservation are important. I'm looking forward to citizen meetings and coffee chats with you. I will be your full-time county supervisor and part of your community.