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Sun, Aug. 25

Water group letter to support Verde Partnership money

The Yavapai County Water Advisory Committee will send a letter to Arizona's Congressional delegation that supports federal money for the Verde River Basin partnership.

Committee members agreed Wednesday that the letter would help counteract a perception that water groups in this county do not cooperate.

"If the perception is we don't get along, maybe that would lay that to rest," Yavapai County Supervisor Carol Springer said of the letter.

Those two groups and the Upper Verde River Watershed Protection Coalition have been discussing in recent weeks whether they should join together in some fashion.

Several members of the groups have stated that the Verde Partnership is having trouble getting federal money for studies because federal and state officials believe the local groups do not get along.

For example, Prescott-area municipalities have refused to join the Verde Partnership, saying they want extra representation because they have the largest population base. They later formed the Upper Verde Coalition.

But no local officials have ever opposed federal money for the Verde Partnership studies, Prescott City Council Member Bob Roecker said. U.S. Sen. John McCain authored the legislation that created the Verde Partnership and called on it to conduct studies, but he did not include any money in the bill.

Roecker suggested the water committee letter. He joined Wednesday's committee meeting in Cottonwood via phone from Texas.

Camp Verde Mayor Tony Gioia said if the committee drafts the letter right away, "it may pay off quickly." He has been talking to federal officials in Washington, D.C., about getting study money into a departmental budget.

The committee agreed to let the co-chairs and committee coordinator draft and send the letter in a few days.

Prescott Valley Council Member Mike Flannery said the Upper Verde Coalition will consider a similar letter as soon as possible, but it might be too late for its next meeting July 23.

The county water committee apparently saw the letter as an interim step during ongoing discussions about possibly assimilating the Verde Partnership into the county water committee.

The three groups have formed an ad-hoc committee of six to discuss the semantics of better cooperation or even assimilation.

The committee's next meeting is to be at 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 29, at the Prescott Public Library, 215 E. Goodwin St.

Contact the reporter at jdodder@prescottaz.com

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