Sat, Feb. 22

Let’s not let Prescott decide <br>what’s best for Verde River

For more than a year now, the Yavapai County Water Advisory Committee has been studying the impacts extensive pumping of groundwater from the Big Chino Basin would have on the flow of the Verde River.

The Big Chino is considered the ultimate answer to the Prescott area’s dire water situation. Verde Valley officials claim the Big Chino is the headwaters for the Verde River. Extensive tapping into that water supply, many Valley officials believe, could have drastic impacts on the river.

The water committee’s goal is to determine exactly how drastic that impact might be. From there, the group would establish a regional water use policy agreeable to all the parties involved.

While the City of Prescott is represented on the committee, its mayor and city council have decided that what is best for Prescott is best for the region as a whole. Mayor Sam Steiger says Prescott is ready to begin construction of a water pipeline to transport water to Prescott from one of the Big Chino wells the city owns in Paulden.

Interestingly, while Prescott is among the entities studying the impacts of Big Chino groundwater pumping on the Verde River, it is going behind the committee’s back to tap into the basin. Prescott’s plans, according to Mayor Steiger, will be all the study anyone needs.

"Our feeling is we’ll start pumping and prove it’s doing no harm," Steiger told the Daily Courier in Prescott.

So much for scientific, hydrologic data to make a wise decision. After all, heck, it’s only the Verde River. Let’s just go with gut feeling and see what happens.

Since the matter has yet to go before the full City Council in a public meeting for an official vote, the door is open for Verde Valley municipal officials to begin a lobbying effort. While Steiger is taking an arrogant view of the potential impacts his plan would have on the Verde River, other members of the Prescott council have not been so vocal. They, hopefully, will listen to reason. While Steiger would prefer this be his decision exclusively, he only represents one vote.

A full contingent of Valley leaders needs to put forth the effort to make sure a majority of the members of the Prescott City Council will listen to reason.

Otherwise, we can only hope Prescott does indeed know what’s best for the rest of us.

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