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Editorial: WAC faction is all wet for nixing water report

Mingus Mountain just got a little taller. Either that or expectations of government's ability to assess and solve problems has just hit an all-time low.

On Monday, the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors voted to sever the Water Advisory Committee (WAC), which it created in 1999, into two subcommittees - one for Western Yavapai County and one for the Verde Valley. They did this largely because the WAC had reached a complete impasse on the primary issue that led to its creation. That is, what would happen to the flow of the Verde River if Prescott and Prescott Valley went ahead with its ambitious and expensive plan to pump water to the two communities from the water ranch they purchased a few years back?

Verde Valley residents and many other folks concerned about the health of the river have long harbored serious concerns about the plan. In its early days, the WAC decided that the best way to answer those concerns would be to do a study that, once and for all and for sure, would settle the issue.

It seemed like that actually might happen when, after a decade of studies and field work, the United States Geological Survey at last produced a computer model of the groundwater system in and around the Big Chino Aquifer, and how that system would respond to several scenarios of population growth and water use. Then, at the request of Prescott and Prescott Valley members of the committee, more tests and refinements were made to the model. And then, when those needs were met, the Prescott-area members decided not to run the model, citing the fact that population growth has stalled and the pipeline is out of the picture for the foreseeable future.

It seems as if the organization has been operating on the age-old assumption that "something's gotta give." At first, the hope was that "something" would be in the form of some sort of compromise that would leave all involved satisfied. Now, it seems that "something" is the hope that the two sides will ever come to agreement.

For now, the WAC will consist of two separate voices preaching to two separate choirs, held together by little more than the bureaucratic necessity of remaining an active body for the sole purpose of keeping its budget intact.

From our point of view, that's not a good enough reason to keep the WAC alive, especially not in its present dysfunctional form.

All that's needed now is for someone to come up with $40,000 to pay USGS to run the model and produce a report.


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