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Sat, March 23

Group proposes putting Verde Partnership under county water committee

PRESCOTT - An ad-hoc group came up with a specific proposal Tuesday for combining local water groups.

The group is proposing that the Verde River Basin Partnership become a subcommittee of the Yavapai County Water Advisory Committee after discussing a variety of options during the nearly two-hour meeting in Prescott.

The ad-hoc group includes two representatives each from the Verde River Basin Partnership, Yavapai County Water Advisory Committee and Upper Verde River Basin Protection Coalition.

Tuesday was the group's second meeting to discuss how the three groups could work more closely together or even combine.

The group did not propose any mergers with the Upper Verde Coalition.

At some point, the Upper Verde group should join forces with the others, said its chair, Chino Valley Mayor Karen Fann. But right now it is in the midst of a 2.5-year contract to analyze and carry out projects that aim to increase Big Chino Sub-basin groundwater supplies. When that is done, the group might not even have a purpose anymore, she added.

The ad-hoc proposal next goes to the Verde River Basin Partnership for a vote.

Clarkdale Mayor Doug Von Gausig, who chairs the Verde Partnership's coordinating committee, predicted that most of the partnership would go along with the proposal.

"You've offered up a very harmless proposal," Yavapai County Supervisor Chip Davis said, and it "creates that connectivity of information."

Combining the two groups would make the county water committee stronger, Fann said.

The county needs a stronger voice at the state level, said Dan Campbell of The Nature Conservancy, which is a Verde Partnership member.

The ad-hoc group left a few details up in the air, such as whether the subcommittee would consist of the entire 48-member Verde Partnership or its nine-member coordinating committee, and whether the county water committee should accept the Verde Partnership's proposed water study without an opportunity to review it.

The Verde Partnership, with the help of federal scientists, designed the proposed study to fulfill the partnership's mission contained in federal legislation.

The Upper Verde Coalition and county water committee already sent letters to the state's Congressional delegation that support federal money for the study.

The Verde Watershed contains portions of four counties. However, Von Gausig previously stated that the other three counties have shown little or no interest in the partnership's activities.

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