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Fri, May 24

If the water model is bad, we're all ears

Evidently, our local municipal governments know some things the rest of us don't. Or, more specifically, they know some things that scientists don't know. The big question is what exactly do they know that we don't?

The Prescott, Prescott Valley and Chino Valley governments stand alone in their assessment of the recently released computer model of the Verde River groundwater system. After a decade and more than $1 million of research, government officials want us all to chuck the Big Chino Sub-basin's hydro-geological structure computer model because they feel it's not accurate enough.

The U.S. Geological Survey is a science organization first and foremost. Its mission is to examine the natural hazards that threaten us, and the natural resources on which we rely. Every day nearly 10,000 scientists, technicians, and support staff of the USGS are working in more than 400 locations throughout the country. To put it simply, the USGS is the nation's largest water, earth and biological science and civilian mapping agency.

Credibility, they've got.

This study was conducted in conjunction with the Yavapai County Water Advisory Committee, a scientific body whose specific objectives, among other things, are to inventory and update existing water uses, and to inventory relevant scientific studies. The WAC spent a decade conducting studies for the USGS, which used the data to create the computer model in question. It created detailed future growth scenarios. The USGS ran the scenarios.

Enter the municipal governments.

"I'm essentially done with the existing model," Prescott Valley Water Resources Manager John Munderloh said. "The existing model needs improvement." The technical reps from Prescott and Chino Valley also want more work on the model before running the scenarios.

Hanging in the balance is the true objective of all these studies - to gauge the environmental impact of the Upper Verde River. There is enough scientific evidence to conclude that the Big Chino supplies most of the Upper Verde's baseflow. If that's the case, prudence demands caution when pumping the river.

Prudent caution demands investigation. Investigation means mitigation. Mitigation means scientific studies, conducted over time with science agencies solely dedicated to sustainable supplies and resource conservation.

In other words, a study, like the ones conducted by the USGS and WAC.

The study is done. The results are in. Local municipal governments don't like said results. Denouncing the computer model comes next.

Again, we can't say specifically what the government technical advisory committees don't like about the model, though we can do enough math to conclude that, specifically, they don't like the model's results. There are concerns that pumping the Upper Verde could reduce the river's flow at some point in the future, which could pose natural hazards of its own.

Hopefully it won't take another decade or another million bucks for the municipal governments to get the answers they seek.

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