Originally Published: March 2, 2014 6 a.m.
Regarding the local (Prescott Active Management Area - PrAMA) water situation, John Zambrano, in his Feb. 6 Courier letter offered:
1. 15 years of below average precipitation;
2. 72 years average natural recharge - 10,000 acre-feet/yr;
3. Recent years withdrawal - 20,000 acre-feet/yr;
4. Current natural outflow, including the Verde River - about 5,000 af/yr.
Based on the preceding, ignoring other recharge (effluent, surface and incidental), it appears that 15,000 af/yr more water is being taken from the PrAMA than is being added ((20,000 + 5,000) - 10,000). A 2006 report projects effluent, surface and incidental recharge at about 6,700 af/yr. Applying this 6,700 af/yr to the 15,000 af deficit leaves an 8,300 af/yr shortfall.
Mr. Z, astutely, notes that we are, currently, withdrawing (20,000 af/yr) 4 times the amount of water (5,000 af/yr) that achieves annual aquifer equilibrium within the confines of the PrAMA. To me this means that devoid of an outside water source or recharge by surface runoff one additional gallon beyond the 5,000 af/yr places the PrAMA in violation of its "safe-yield" 2025 obligation. There is no way to comply without an outside water source, coupled with "rainwater harvesting."
From my perspective the PrAMA options are:
1. 75 percent population reduction;
2. Severe water restrictions;
3. Wave the safe-yield obligation and tap into the aquifer's static reservoir;
4. Convey water from the Big Chino aquifer;
5. Rainwater harvesting and evaporation implementation.
This problem cannot be ignored. It is not a "Benghazi" or "Fast and Furious" debacle that evaporates without consequence. Those in charge need to take action now. Keep in mind that Mr. Z and his troops will be monitoring and will bring out the heavy artillery if their environmental concerns and the "Razorback Chub" become "at risk." While Mr. Z hopes, I will pray.