Editorial: Safe Yield law needs stronger language
An Israeli diplomat who was part of the team negotiating the Camp David Accords during the Carter administration said the Hebrew language complicated discussions.
Translated into other languages, he said, statements in Hebrew come across as brusque, imperative and dictatorial.
"After all," he said, "Moses didn't get The Ten Requests."
The language surrounding the 1998 state declaration of groundwater mining in the Prescott Active Management Area (AMA) is too much like "The Ten Requests."
Supposedly, the AMA needs to reach a state of "safe-yield" by 2025. That is a state in which water users in the AMA are putting as much water back in the aquifer as they are taking out. The implication at the time was that if the area didn't reach that state, it could run out of water.
At a meeting of the Upper Verde River Protection Coalition this past week, Yavapai County Supervisor Carol Springer pointed out that the declaration is not a mandate and provides no penalties for not making the deadline.
"By using the term 'goal' in the definition of safe-yield, the Legislature clearly did not intend to require compliance with safe-yield in a regulatory sense, with sanctions imposed on persons if safe-yield is not achieved," Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Herb Guenther wrote in a letter to John Zambrano, vice president of the Citizens Water Advocacy Group.
Back in 1998, ADWR declared a state of groundwater mining and set the 2025 "safe-yield" date ostensibly to spur local government entities to bring local water use into line with supply before faucets started going dry and Mother Nature did it for us.
Since the declaration, many local governments have not exhibited any sense of urgency about the need to resolve concerns about the long-term stability and sustainability of the area's water supply.
Prescott Valley is a good example of what local governments can do to meet safe-yield by 2025.
It's time for the Arizona Legislature to take "The Ten Requests" approach to the more imperative end of the spectrum.