Granite Dells lot split proposal could drain precious aquifer
Flash back to the 1950s and picture yourself in the neighborhood soda shop enjoying a huge, soothing milkshake.
Suddenly four leather-jacketed thugs with duck-tail haircuts come in, huddle around you and each one sticks a straw in your shake and collectively they drain it.
That is a good preview of the potential consequences for Prescott water users if Cavan Real Estate Investments follows through on its apparent intentions to develop the Granite Dells Ranch area north of Prescott through lot splits that will enable it to circumvent even county subdivision regulations.
Lot splits will mean individual exempt wells on each lot along with a septic tank. Each exempt well may pump a maximum of 35 gallons per minute from the aquifer. Were each well to pump 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 365 days of the year, it would take 57-acre feet of water out of the aquifer.
To be sure, not all wells will pump anywhere near that much, but the point is the Arizona Legislature is so servile to the real estate industry that lawmakers probably never will empower the Arizona Department of Water Resources to get even reliable scientific data on how much exempt wells pump out of the aquifer, let alone any control over them even though the state is supposed to own (and thus manage) the water.
Nor does the state count any recharge from exempt well properties, so the burden for the area to reach safe yield falls solely on the shoulders of municipalities in the Prescott Active Management Area, even though the more than 7,000 exempt wells in the area probably are the AMA's third largest water user.
Had Prescott been able to annex Granite Dells Ranch and Point of the Rocks Ranch, the city could have controlled the amount of water coming out of the aquifer and had recharge from the property count toward safe yield.
Ah, the joys of Proposition 400!