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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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7/14/2013 3:25:00 PM
Divided water group meets Wednesday
"Let's accomplish something; let's not just discuss issues, let's discuss how we move forward and get something done, because we have been talking about this for 12 to 14 years." (Inset: County Supervisor Chip Davis)

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter


COTTONWOOD -- The mayors of Cottonwood and Clarkdale are very competitive, say other Verde Valley politicians who asked not to be attributed, but one insists, "It spills over into all the politics we do as a region, and I hope that it just goes away."

That may be part of the disagreement over operations of the Middle Verde Valley Water Advisory Committee (MVWAC). But at least one of the players says she will not attend those meetings, which get under way this Wednesday in Cottonwood. The Cottonwood Council recently voted not to participate in the monthly sub-group meetings, but only work with the WAC committee as a whole, when it meets occasionally.

The continual back-and-forth bickering by opposite sides of the mountain is the rationale for splitting into two working sub-groups. The Middle Verde Group has met only two times, but the Upper Verde River Watershed Protection Coalition has been in place since 2006.

What the Middle Verde group has agreed to, says Supervisor Chip Davis, is that there is already a lot of information out there and we don't need more. "But, what we should do is to implement policy to create change. What the Middle Verde folks have agreed on is: "let's accomplish something; let's not just discuss issues, lets discuss how we move forward and get something done, because we have been talking about this for 12 to 14 years.'"

The Water Advisory Committee does not create policy on its own, but its recommendations return to each jurisdiction for discussion and adoption.

The supervisor will be out of town and will not able to attend Wednesday's meeting. John Rasmussen, the WAC coordinator, has distributed an agenda for the meeting, developed in concert with John Martinez of Sedona, the chair of the sub-group.

Martinez is disappointed Cottonwood will not be part of the discussions.

"I totally agree that it is too important a player not to participate in discussions. I think they would be missing a whole lot of discussions that pertain to the entire Verde Valley and they are an important player. I hope down the line they would reconsider that decision.

"Obviously, we have Camp Verde, Sedona, Jerome, Clarkdale and the tribe. They all have ideas about how to have a positive impact about the Verde River. We believe that as a smaller group, excluding the WAC, we cab try to resolve our own issues on this side of the mountain."

That agenda calls for re-stating the organizational conclusions of the MVWAC, to define work goals, objectives and to discuss the recent letter penned by Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake to all WAC participants, which urges that the jurisdictions work to develop a long-range strategy for management of the Verde River. The senators' letter cites the USGS study prediction "that the Verde River annual baseflow will decrease up to another 8,600 acre feet over the next 100 years and that some local wells will drop another 100 feet with others going dry."

"This serves as a call to action," McCain and Flake stated.

"The Verde River is not going dry," insisted Tom Whitmer, Cottonwood's Natural Resources director, during a recent Cottonwood presentation of the USGS report. USGS representatives agreed with Whitmer.

But, the senators' letter continues, the current uses of the Verde River "are unsustainable."

"The feeling I get from Camp Verde, and I tried to tell Diane [Mayor Joens], is "Why are people going to be interested in pulling this thing together without all of us speaking with one voice, the way we did with 260," Camp Verde Mayor Charlie German says.

"I just hope we can start laying things on the table and saying these are some of the water management things and water quality things. I know that, having lived here since 1951, there was a whole lot more water in the river then when I learned to swim under the bridge. You can barely get your knees wet there now."

The Middle Verde Valley Water Advisory Sub-group meets from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon in the County Administration meeting room in Cottonwood.




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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013
Article comment by: Common Sense

If Chino and Prescott Valley are allowed to pump as much water as say they need from the Big Chino aquifer, then according to all the studies and models being used, the upper Verde river will cease to run, except with rainfall and maybe some seepage from Sycamore Canyon. In all likelihood Sycamore Canyon will dry up also.
The Verde River from the Big Chino, until the Verde meets Oak Creek, will just become a series of stagnant unhealthy pools that will become toxic. Even now we are really only getting a healthy flush of the river during the annual monsoon season. For all intense purposes the Upper Verde river has already dried except for the occasional rains.
I always thought McCain and Flakes were the representatives that were supposed to get the ball rolling as far as saving the Verde River for the Verde Valley. We who live near the river are already involved and we have called upon our representatives in government to pass legislation and make new laws governing the rivers and unsustainable growth.
Involve fish and game and the army corp of engineers to save all the species of birds, mammals, reptiles and fish that depend on the wild habitat that exists on the Upper Verde.
If we lose the upper Verde River due to uncontrolled and unsustainable growth in Prescott Valley, it will result in a chain-reaction of events that will make property prices in the Verde Valley plummet. our aquifer will dry up and the water left will be a concentrated mix of arsenic, petrochemicals, and pesticides.
It doesn't take million dollar studies to see there isn't enough water for the people that are presently using the Big Chino and the Verde River. The economy isn't going to improve by building more homes. Only by improving the existing businesses and inviting and attracting manufacturing jobs. More resorts and golf courses are ignorant in this area, at this time. Its just common sense.


Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Article comment by: Bill Gunning

Sedona and other verde valley communities are probably wasting a lot of water due to old steel pipes that are leaking.

Our historic ranch house was built in 1948.

Last year, I noticed that our water bills were climbing faster than a tom cat being chased up a tree by a dog... Reluctantly, I dug a few test holes in the yard where I thought the water supply pipe was.

Water appeared in all my test holes not twenty four inches from the surface. I decided action was necessary. I replaced 300ft. of old water lines. The work was expensive but I got to thinking that water is a really precious gift that needs to be managed intelligently.

My garden, I'm happy to say, is still producing large, tasty organic tomatoes and now my water bills have decreased on average about 50%.

Now, I can sleep at night. I know I've done the right thing and am being rewarded every month with lower water bills.


Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Article comment by: Unreliable? Yes, really!

As are all such polls.

Don your Big Boy pants and explain to us why Cottonwood's position represents more than a thwarted-municipality tantrum.


Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Article comment by: Unreliable? really?

'No one should place too much stock in the VI's poll. Not hard to imagine someone like voting a hundred times to skew the results.'

Your choice of person clearly indicates your bias right from the get go and informs the rest of us as to your persona.

Get over the name calling folks... this is not second grade any more.


Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Article comment by: Unreliable poll

No one should place too much stock in the VI's poll. Not hard to imagine someone like Diane Joens voting a hundred times to skew the results.

What we should place stock in is the importance of regional cooperation to protect the Verde River and responsibly manage our water to protect future generations.

Reporter Jon Hutchinson continues to misrepresent the USGS numerical model. The model was not created to specifically predict when the Verde will go dry. Everyone seems to know this except Tom Whitmer who is exploiting the misrepresentation for political purposes.

Get behind those leaders who put people ahead of special interests.

Support those who understand what the majority want: protect our water. Protect the Verde. Protect small town quality of life.


Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Heartman

@ Anonymous
I hope to heck the Verde Independent has more than 134 readers (the total votes cast in the BBQ truck poll). 61% of that would be a whopping 82 readers who think Cottonwood should pull out of the mini-WAC. (Which has nothing to do with my opinion of splitting the council--just my opinion of people who sling poll percentages as if they meant something, and then misrepresent what the percentage refers to on top of that.)


Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013
Article comment by: Anonymous

Per the current poll in the paper about 2 thirds of the papers readers agree with the decision made by the city to avoid validating a no longer valid group.

So it isn't really a surprise that politicians asked not to be attributed for their comment is it? But it does seem to underscore just how secure or un-secure those folks are in their positions doesn't it.

So what do you do when someone is actually doing what you are only talking about doing? bash them without attribution.

As others have said... time to start talking turkey and get down to brass tacks... roll out your per-ca-pita number's folks and see who is walking the walk versus talking the talk.




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