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Sun, Aug. 18

PV manager says Verde won't suffer

PRESCOTT VALLEY – Prescott Valley Interim Town Manager Larry Tarkowski reassured tri-city residents Tuesday that the Verde River would not suffer from the plan to remove water from the Big Chino aquifer.

Pulling water from the aquifer will allow the tri-city area to extend its 100-year water supply into a 300-year water supply, Tarkowski said to the 70-plus people who attended Tuesday morning's Prescott Valley Economic Development Foundation meeting.

"The federal government, through the Endangered Species Act, will guarantee that there will be no negative impacts to the flows of the Verde River, or they will shut us down," he said. "That's why it is imperative that we go ahead and prepare a very good mitigation plan."

Tarkowski said the Yavapai County Water Advisory Committee's tri-city members have clearly stated for five years that tri-city groundwater usage would not reduce the flow of the Verde River through the Verde Valley.

The purchase of the JWK Ranch, which belongs to the Kieckhefer Foundation, would give the tri-city area access to the neighboring Big Chino aquifer.

Some Verde and tri-city residents oppose the City of Prescott's future purchase of the JWK Ranch because of fears that pumping from the Big Chino would reduce the flow of the Verde River.

Steve Norwood, Prescott city manager, said the aquifer contains enough water to provide a 200- to 300-year water supply for the tri-city area, according to conservative estimates.

Norwood also talked about current water shortages because of pumping capacity issues.

"We have a capacity to pump in Prescott about 12.9 million gallons a day, and probably more realistically 12.5 million," he said. "Two days last week we pumped 12.2 million. That is awfully, awfully close and dangerous. We have about a two-day supply in our tanks. … If residents and the rain do not cooperate, then probably next week we will look at mandatory water restric-tions."

Norwood noted that the city has requested that residents voluntarily conserve water.

These voluntary conservation measures include properties with street addresses ending in odd numbers that should water outdoors after 8 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and end watering by 8 a.m. the next day. Properties with even addresses should water outdoors on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays after 8 p.m., ending at 8 a.m. the next day. The request states that no one should water between 8 a.m. on Monday and 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Tarkowski said the tri-city area offers any potential incoming business the most water-regulated environment in Arizona with rights to additional water for future generations.

"That can't be said by some competing communities like Kingman, Flagstaff, Payson, et cetera," he said. "They are not in active management areas."

Being in an active management area allows tri-city residents to be reassured that they will have a sufficient water supply, Tarkowski said.

Active management area rules require the tri-city area not to use more local groundwater than their aquifer can replenish. This also is known as the "safe yield."

"The cost of water is going to go up, because of our safe yield management goal," Tarkowski said. "We are all going to pay for pipes and pumps and ranch pur-chases."

Daily Courier reporter Joanna Dodder contributed to this article.

Contact the writer at jkamin@prescottaz.com

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