State needs to take action for ‘safe yield’
It can be maddening to find out that you forgot to put your cell phone or digital camera on to recharge during the night.
It can be even worse to find out that you forgot to recharge one of life’s essentials, such as water.
Recharge of the huge aquifer under Yavapai County is arguably the greatest challenge facing county residents, because without water, anything else is irrelevant.
In early 1999, the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) declared the Prescott Active Management Area (AMA), comprising most of Yavapai County, to be in a state of groundwater mining. In short, the area was not putting back in the ground as much water as it was taking out. The state ordered the area to reach a state of “safe yield” or to put as much water back as it was using by 2025.
The City of Prescott, which the state estimates uses more than a third of the water in the AMA, has announced a plan to reach safe yield for its share of the aquifer, and this past week the Town of Prescott Valley announced its plan for safe yield for its share.
However, the AMA’s third largest user, the holders of all the exempt wells, perhaps as many as 15,000 in the AMA, have no plan for reaching safe yield and, as yet, no means to do so. The wells are on county lot splits on home sites that have septic tanks. The state does not recognize flow from septic tanks as counting toward safe yield.
Clearly it’s time for the state to get involved. Not only do we need more clarity in the law about how key water users in the Prescott AMA are to reach safe yield and the sanctions for failing to do so, but we also crucially need more information about and more control over the exempt wells in the AMA and how they are to reach their share of the safe yield requirement.
Is the District 1 legislative delegation listening?