Wed, June 26

Battle lines have shifted over Big Chino water

The perspective from this side of the mountain is that the water war we hear so much about is a showdown between the Verde Valley and the tri-cities of Prescott, Prescott Valley and Chino Valley.

They don’t see it that way at all.

The battle lines have shifted on the other side of the mountain. It’s no longer the Prescott area vs. the Verde Valley. Rather, it’s now a debate over how much water each of the tri-cities will receive out of the deal to construct a water pipeline and begin pumping groundwater from the Big Chino Basin.

Forget the debate over the hydrological connection between the Big Chino and the Verde River. The debate now is akin to bank robbers fighting with each other over the "take" each will receive before they even rob the bank.

Prescott Mayor Sam Steiger admitted this week that very issue is a point of debate among the three communities. "We discussed how to divide up the water," Steiger explained following a Tuesday executive session of the Prescott City Council. "Everybody wanted more."

"Everybody wanted more."

No three words sum it up better. The tri-cities have no concern about how this pipeline plan will impact the Verde River. They’re too busy positioning themselves to make sure they get their fair share of the water once the pumping begins.

It’s much like California’s take of Central Arizona Project water. California has used its political muscle to receive more than its original allocation of CAP water. What began as a short-term fix for California is now just the way it is. Once you turn on the faucet, there is no cutting back.

Prescott claims the ultimate test of the Big Chino’s impact on the Verde River is to build this pipeline and begin pumping water. If it negatively impacts the river, the pumping will stop.

Don’t kid yourself for a minute. Once that pipeline is built and the pumping begins, it will never stop no matter what its impact on the Verde River is. The Prescott area isn’t concerned about the Verde River.

Their only concern is how much water they are going to get out of the deal.

Remember Mayor Steiger’s words: "Everybody wants more."

Once the faucet is turned on, we will never be able to shut it off.