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Tue, Nov. 12

Big Chino monitoring, modeling will be topic at Wednesday meeting

The City of Prescott announced late Friday that a special City Council meeting would take place Wednesday afternoon to consider an agreement with the Salt River Project (SRP) regarding monitoring and modeling of the Big Chino Sub-basin.

The meeting will take place at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Centennial Center (old clubhouse), 1989 Clubhouse Drive. Along with the Prescott City Council, the meeting will include the Town Council from Prescott Valley, the city's partner on the Big Chino Water Ranch project.

The agenda includes just one item: A resolution authorizing the city to enter into an agreement with Prescott Valley and the Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District "for monitoring and modeling of surface and ground waters in the Big Chino Sub-basin and Upper Verde River."

The agreement would follow up on a February 2010 settlement between the parties, pertaining to withdrawal of water from the Big Chino Sub-basin and the protection of stream flow in the Upper Verde River.

Since that settlement, city and town officials have been negotiating with SRP on the modeling and monitoring portion of the agreement.

According to a city memo, the total capital cost of the enhanced monitoring system and modeling is estimated at $4.32 million.

The costs would be shared, with two-thirds being the responsibility of Prescott and Prescott Valley, and one-third being the responsibility of SRP. Prescott and Prescott Valley would further divide the cost based on their 54.1/45.9-percent split of costs for the water ranch.

After applying credits for previous work, the memo states that the net estimated capital cost forward for Prescott would be $1.43 million.

To date, Prescott and Prescott Valley have spent about $36 million on a variety of Big Chino Water Ranch expenses, including the purchase of the Paulden-area water-ranch land, pipeline design, right-of-way acquisition, and legal costs.

The city memo maintains that questions over Proposition 401, the 2009 initiative that required projects of $40 million or more to go to a vote of the public, "are moot" because the monitoring and modeling are related to "feasibility," for which the initiative allows a $5 million cap.

Prescott and Prescott Valley teamed up in 2004 to develop the water ranch to pump water from the Big Chino Sub-basin and transport it to the tri-city area.

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