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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : opinions : commentary May 26, 2016


8/21/2012 1:13:00 PM
My Turn: Tom Whitmer best choice as Verde Valley TAC representative
Mayor Diane Joens


The San Pedro Partnership and the Coconino Plateau all have cities, towns and counties on their technical advisory groups, so this is not something out of the ordinary at all.

Flagstaff, Page, the Navajo Nation and Coconino County all have representatives on the Coconino Plateau WAC TAC. On the San Pedro Partnership, Cochise County, Ft. Huachuca and the City of Sierra Vista have members on the Technical Advisory Committee. In water groups around the state, it is common to have cities, towns or counties serve as members on Technical Advisory Committees.

Perhaps the WAC should consider that the science studies are a step toward the solution that will involve communication and planning with others in the state, the feds, etc. The WAC is headed toward management solutions informed by science, but involving much more. I think a TAC candidate should be able to move forward advising the WAC for the steps that we will take as a result of science and planning.

While the TAC needs and appreciates science qualifications, we may need more than just  a ‘scientist.’ We should keep in mind that the science, while critical, is not the end all be all of the WAC; the science is a tool to be used in the larger mix of water planning. It is the interpretation of it and everything else that will be important.

We need help navigating those realms that will include political and legislative. All of these things go in to long-term water management planning. It appears some of us are completely wrapped around the model review aspect of the WAC, and maybe we need to look ahead at where we are potentially going as a group and a region. Pursuing a big project, whether it be on our own or more likely in cooperation with others, is going to take more than just looking at science. I believe we need a TAC representative, like Tom Whitmer, who is adept at reading and analyzing models, who is a scientist, too, and yet has the proven ability and proven experience to work with local, state and federal governments if directed to do so by the WAC.

If everyone would actually read the WAC’s Mission Statement, Situational Analysis, Critical Planning Assumptions, and Key Objectives, they would understand that Tom Whitmer is simply the best choice for the TAC position, representing the Verde Valley.



Diane Joens is the mayor of Cottonwood.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2012
Article comment by: wac-cky to-backy stuff maybe...

"Maybe if Cottonwood had shown a regional perspective for the last 5-6 years, instead of "my way or the highway""

really? why is it cottonwood always seems ta be gettin da' rap for being un-regional when they have been very much the team player?

examples?

the cats/lynx system dat serves many areas outside the city and have offered to work with camp verde as well maybe?

trying to get that regional dispatch center started- fer the entire valley.

the city worked to get the city meetins onto other cable tv channels and the internets so that folks from out side the city can keep up on them meetins.

for a few...

easy to throw stones but beware the glass house.



Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2012
Article comment by: Connolly Bruce

What kind of leader is afraid of the truth? We need to look at this report that we already paid for with unbiased objectivity (aka science) and move on.

Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2012
Article comment by: win hjalmarson

Some additional thoughts and questions related to the Whitmer or Meyer selection might be added to the stew. It seems appropriate to mention the rather recent Water Resources Development Commission that I recall was created by our legislature to assess the state’s water needs as well as its inventory of available water sources for the next 25, 50 and 100 years. The Commission noted that the state's legal structure, which treats groundwater, surface water and reclaimed water differently, will hamper future water management schemes. This obvious legal issue has been recognized for some time. The commission also suggested the legislature consider the creation of a statewide or regional water authority. This suggestion seems odd because what has ADWR been doing? I haven’t kept up with the Commission but isn’t ADWR responsible for ensuring that dependable, long-term water supplies are available for Arizona? Anyhow, in regard to law, according to Joseph M. Feller in the AZ Law Review (2007), One does not “get out” of the Gila adjudication. It is a sort of judicial black hole into which light, sound, lawyers, water—even Judge Goodfarb—indeed, whole forests of paper, will disappear. The only way out is out the other end. I’ve read where more than $100,000,000 has been spent on this longest judicial proceeding (the Gila adjudication) in AZ history. How can we manage the water resource without knowing 1) what the Big Chino-Verde River connection might be and 2) who has rights to use the water?


Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2012
Article comment by: win hjalmarson

To no name,
Interesting discussion supporting Whitmer but fundamentally flawed. The Tri-cities have resisted all science based information concerning the Big Chino connection with the Verde River. Most of this science over the past 40 plus years is in published USGS and USBR reports. In regard to the Little Chino connection to the Verde River base flow, ADWR published a report for the PrAMA with a water budget that showed no outflow to the Verde River. Now, through the efforts of Chip, myself, Ed Wolfe and others the USGS has developed a GW-SW model of Northern AZ that includes the Big Chino aquifer and the Verde River. Guess what, the Tri-cities have even gone to Congress to prevent the USGS from running the model for the upper Verde that potentially could aid in the management of the precious water resource. So from my perspective we need to recognize and use the best science based information available before we can iron out technical issues that Whitmer might assist with. It just so happens that Bill Meyer has openly discussed the GW-SW connection from a science perspective and the Tri-cities is uncomfortable with that. What else is new? Obviously the Tri-cities does not want the USGS model run because it may show a GW-SW connection. We need to run the USGS model, as Chip clearly is saying, so perhaps Whitmer could assist with management of the resource. Bill Meyer is the person we need on the TAC to help make this happen.


Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Article comment by: Whitmer is qualified for the real tasks at hand

Excellent comments Ms Mayor,
I like that you point out the model and the science is only one step in the process. Appears some people think the model is the end all be all of water mangement. There is a lot more than science involved in this issue.

The model is just one tool in with everything else we know. It is step towards, getting some planning thorugh a potentially difficult process, that will require working with ADWR (not bashing them as incompetent compared to our Godly USGS selves), it will require working with the legislature (not just calling them stupid,and complaining about how they never listen to us Gods of knowledge). Attitude matters. A know-it-all attitude is good for the choir but its water, and you leave your chior often. It will require several things that someone with Whitmers experience can do. Maybe we should hire Bill Meyer to evaluate the model, but I don't think he up to the task of working with people he doesn't like on the TAC or the WAC (which he probably thinks is incompetent becasue they haven't just rolled over and accepted the model as Gods gift to us). The TAC can help the WAC through the proess - it needs people who can work with others. They do not need a USGS God that we have to bow down to and accept their stuff as Gold Standard without asking questions. Sorry folks, but when you are a pompous *ss nobody wants to work with you. Huh Win?



Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Article comment by: Wac-ky Stuff

Sounds like our mayor thinks the other 5 members of the Water Advisory Committee in the Verde just don't understand the facts. Maybe she should instead be trying to figure out why none of the others feel like they can trust Cottonwood to act impartially. Maybe she has an image problem? Maybe if Cottonwood had shown a regional perspective for the last 5-6 years, instead of "my way or the highway" they'd be more willing to appoint a Cottonwood employee to advise them. Just maybe.

Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Article comment by: CITIZEN WATCHDOG

Of course a Professonal Politician doesnt want "just a scientist" on the board...A Politician wants another Politician, one that can be bought, sold and influenced for the 'best interests' of the community. Be very careful here...the very future of our Valley is a stake. Many 'claim' to have 'our' best interests at heart, but at the end of the day answer to the almighty dollar.

Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Article comment by: when you get right down to it...

the folks that are trying to keep the people off the commission that were approved for the positions by the commision... are just as if not more political than the others.

this smacks of spoiled kids not getting their way so they decide to change the rules of the game.

stop sandbagging, appoint the folks decided upon and keep moving ahead.

deciding to put folks in that are 'not political' is in fact completely political. appoint the people... let them do the job... stop whining... because tears may be too salty to discharge into the verde and i don't think there will be enough to drink even if we could.


Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Article comment by: Politicizing the science

Thank you Mayor Joens. We could not have asked for better insight into the mentality of those who would rather undermine science and reason in favor of money and political power in making land use decisions.

So its not just science, the Mayor informs us.

Sure, from her perspective political power and money are much more important than science when making these kinds of decisions.

Why would Mayor Joens think this?

Because Cottonwood is eying the 10 square miles of state trust land between Cottonwood and Sedona for a new city with maybe 50,000 residents.

Trouble with that is, we are entirely dependent on an aquifer with an unknown carrying capacity. The best evidence we now have shows there is not nearly enough water to support that kind of development.

The USGS water model would help prove or disprove that. The water model represents the gold standard of predictive science, but the TAC is so politicized now they wont even run it. They are fearful of the results.

And of course Mr. Whitmer, while on Cottonwoods payroll, would not do anything to rock the boat. It wouldnt be fair to ask him to do anything else but represent what his bosses want him to do. That is his job.

So much for objective science.

But for the rest of us who live in the real world and have to face a future without water, this is troublesome.

The TAC is already politicized to the point of being dysfunctional. The appointment of Mr. Whitmer would only make that group more so.


Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Article comment by: win hjalmarson

Unfortunately Mayor Joens is incorrect about what Tom Whitmer can bring to the TAC. Whitmer has impressive experience with ADWR that includes the screwy AZ water law and our state legislature. However, experience with ADWR does not qualify one as a scientist. In fact, Whitmer is tainted with the scientifically dishonest "safe yield" water budget of the PrAMA and the scientifically unsound "subflow zone" created by ADWR. So Tom Whitmer has some experience with science but he's scientifically and politically tainted as a past ADWR employee. Compared to Bill Meyer, who has 40 years experience as a USGS scientist and who has taught groundwater hydrology at Prescott, Tom simply doesn't have what we need as our TAC representative. We should feel honored that Bill Meyer has agreed to be our technical representative on the TAC.




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