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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : the villager : the villager May 25, 2016

10/25/2013 10:34:00 AM
We have county, city promises on Verde River: Show us the plan
By: Tom O'Halleran
My Turn

The movie Jerry McGuire was released in 1996. Tom Cruise played Jerry McGuire, a sports agent who had just left a major firm to go out on his own with only one of his clients who chose to stay with him.

The client, Rod Tidwell, a football player who played wide receiver for a professional team, was played by Cuba Gooding Jr. McGuire finds himself confronted with many obstacles in order for Tidwell to get a new contract not the least of which was Tidwell's attitude.

"Show Me The Money" is what Gooding said when his frustration level had finally reached its limit. Repeatedly McGuire assured Tidwell he should not worry.

Tidwell, married with children, was concerned that a career-ending injury could occur, leaving him unable to provide for his family.

Together they realized that they shared a common goal. To achieve the goal a cooperative partnership had to be formed. This realization enabled McGuire to deliver on his promise and Tidwell to secure his family's financial future.

In the Verde River Basin we have a similar scenario: we need to keep our promises that the surface waters of the Verde River will be preserved. Yavapai County and all the cities and towns within its boundaries have promised that they will preserve the surface water of the Verde River.

Over the years they have done this through community plans, verbal acknowledgement and the mission statements of various organizations.

The county, cities and towns are all members of the Yavapai Water Advisory Committee, whose key number one objective is: "Identify and promote Yavapai County regional water management and conservation strategies that ensure sustainable use of water supplies, enhance economic vitality and that protect the base flows of the County's rivers and streams."

Yavapai County and Prescott area cities and towns are members of the Upper Verde River Watershed Protection Coalition. Their mission statement is: "Working together to protect the Upper Verde River, the Coalition is committed to balancing the reasonable water needs of the residents of the Upper Verde River Watershed Area with protection of the base flow of the Upper Verde River to the maximum possible extent....."

Back to the movie Jerry McGuire: there is a sign in the locker room that says "Dig the well before you are thirsty."

In other words plan before its too late.

"Show Us the Plan." The promises have been made. Yavapai County and our region's cities and towns have come together and produced a number of important studies that have helped us better understand our water resources.

The U.S. Geological Survey has completed a groundwater-flow model of the region and in cooperation with the Verde River Basin Partnership completed a study that showed that both the Verde River and the groundwater of the Verde Valley are at risk.

The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), in cooperation with our region's governments, has indicated we will have a significant unmet water demand in the not to distant future.

The BOR report has identified potential water resource options that may or may not be viable. In the end it still comes down to one issue. Will we work together and take action to solve our water resource issues or will we continue to meet without developing a plan of action based on a regional approach to water management?

At a recent meeting of the Verde River Basin Partnership Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Sandra Fabritz-Whitney was asked if our region could overcome our water resource issues without a regional management approach?

The Director's response was "No."

"Show Us the Plan." It's just that simple. The Yavapai Water Advisory Committee's No. 1 key objective is to identify and promote a regional water management and conservation plan.

The Upper Verde River Watershed Protection Coalition's intent is clearly to protect the base flow of the Upper Verde River by working together. It appears we are all on the same page.

So why don't we have a water management plan for the Verde River Basin?

We only have to look at the recent development in the U.S. Congress to understand that at some point, in order to move forward and create solutions, we need to work together.

The elected officials and water resource managers of the various cities and towns are all good people with good intentions.

They want to preserve and protect our water resources.

The Yavapai County Water Advisory Committee will soon be meeting to discuss the implications of the BOR report.

The collective direction they take will be a determining factor to identify our ability to look beyond the horizon and acknowledge it is time for a collaborative approach.

A first step could be investigating how a regional plan should be developed, what obstacles need to be overcome, develop the plan and a timeline to produce the regional plan.

Jerry McGuire told Tidwell, "My word is stronger than oak." It is time for promises to become reality.

Addressing our water resource supply needs will take time, funding, cooperation and a realization that the longer we take to plan the harder it will be to solve.

"Show Us the Plan."

Tom O'Halleran is the chairman of the Verde River Basin Partnership Board of Directors.

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