Mon, March 30

Valley better off forming alliance with SRP to save Verde River

Because it owns some of the most senior water rights on the river, SRP shares a basic concern with the Verde Valley. We both want to see an uninterrupted flow of the river.

More specifically, we both want to see Prescott-area interests leave the river alone.

SRP currently is flexing its considerable political muscle with the Arizona Department of Water Resources over the latter's green light given to the Rancho Cielo development near Paulden.

When originally proposed, Rancho Cielo was known as the Headwaters Development because of its close proximity to the source waters of the Verde River. The project calls for the development of 1,266 home and townhouse sites and an 18-hole golf course on some 700 acres.

The project is about a mile from the springs that some scientists believe supply as much as 80 percent of the flow of the uppermost stretches of the Verde River.

For about five years now, Verde Valley leaders have been in a losing tug-of-war with Prescott interests over the source waters of the Verde. We've protested the Rancho Cielo development. We've protested Prescott's plans to build a water pipeline from the Paulden area to boost the city's domestic water needs.

Our protests have all but fallen on deaf ears. Ranch Cielo is moving forward. So too are the plans to build the water pipeline.

Perhaps it's time to rethink our allegiance to the Yavapai County Water Advisory Committee. Granted, the ideals of this group are admirable. But the reality is that this group is nothing more than a pacifier to the concerns of the Verde Valley. The committee is obviously powerless to dissuade Prescott-area interests from tapping into the source waters of the Verde.

We'd obviously be better off forming an alliance with the Salt River Project. SRP's concerns about Prescott's raid on the Verde River mirror our own.

There is no doubt that SRP is a powerful ally. SRP has political clout. SRP has money. SRP will fight Prescott.

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