COTTONWOOD -- The Yavapai County Water Advisory Committee Wednesday heard a presentation on the ongoing development of the Central Yavapai Highlands Water Resource Management Study.
The study is to get ahead of the expected eventual unmet need for additional water resources. Several areas, such as the White Mountains, San Pedro area and the Coconino plateau in Arizona have already completed studies and recommended sources for future water supplies.
The study is being conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation with the help of the Technical Water Committee and Arizona Department of Water Resources.
In the Yavapai study area, Coordinator John Rasmussen suggests, "There is not one big answer, the solution is likely to require several pieces to satisfy the unmet need from the net of possibilities."
The first part of the study determined that by 2050, the area will have unmet water needs of 45,000 to 80,000 acre feet.
The second phase of the study, which Rasmussen presented to the committee this week, looks at 13 potential sources of water to plug the future needs both within and outside the study area. There are six basins adjacent to the Verde basin.
The options include groundwater, surface water, wastewater, storm and flood water, effluent and conservation.
During the third and final stage, Rasmussen says "value judgments" will have to be made "beyond the technical people."
Among those options in the second phase, surface water within the study area is off the table because already "existing claims for the water far exceed the supply." Outside the study area, there is the potential for surface water from the Colorado and Bill Williams basins.
While septic water is a potential, wastewater from mine drainage and brackish-saline water is not considered viable.
The study shows that drainage from septic tanks, could generate as much as 5,000 acre feet per year, but may not be viable because of the high cost of treatment and construction of infrastructure.
There was a suggestion that agricultural water rights in the Camp Verde area and elsewhere in the Verde may eventually transition to mainstream use.
Tom Whitmer of Cottonwood clarified that there is the possibility for "exchange," but not for "purchase" of rights.
Rasmussen explained that solutions like storm water may generate significant supply in excess of existing claims, however the cost to trap the water may be prohibitive.
The committee wants another meeting to review and understand the alternatives and associated costs and environmental issues before taking the options to the individual councils. The WAC meets again Feb. 19.