City delays vote on part of water policy
Updated as of Friday, November 1, 2019 9:31 PM
A vote on the most controversial section of the city’s proposed water-policy changes has been postponed.
In a news release Friday afternoon, Nov. 1, the City of Prescott announced that a vote on the section that would allow the city to provide water service outside city limits will not take place on Nov. 12, as planned.
“When the City Council meets on Tuesday Nov. 12, they will review the new proposed water policy, which has been in the works since June,” states the news release.
But Mayor Greg Mengarelli and Mayor Pro Tem Billie Orr have reportedly decided that the council would hold off on the section on water service outside city limits.
That is the section of the multi-faceted water policy changes that has generated the most debate in the community.
During an Oct. 22 discussion, several members of the audience voiced opposition to the section that would allow the city to consider providing water for development outside the city.
At that meeting, Leslie Hoy of the Citizens Water Advocacy Group (CWAG) asked the council to postpone a decision on the section allowing water distribution outside the city, maintaining that the move would have “tremendous implications for our future.”
Others in the audience cautioned that providing water outside city limits would be detrimental to the long-term goal of safe-yield (the condition of balance between the amount of water being pumped and the amount being recharged back into the ground).
Others have maintained that the policy change would allow the city to circumvent the requirements of the 2005 voter-approved initiative, Proposition 400, which brought with it a number of stringent new rules for large-scale annexations of land into city limits.
Mengarelli said in the Friday news release that it makes sense to take more time for public input and discussion.
“The current council and staff have been working to revise our antiquated water policy for most of this past year,” Mengarelli said.
“There have been six study sessions and four public meetings, and all information has been posted on the city website.”
Still, Mengarelli added, “We are hearing from citizens who are just learning about this, and want council to take more time.”
The mayor stressed the postponement does not indicate a change in his opinion, however.
“Let me be clear: City leadership believes that providing water outside of city limits makes sense and actually will result in better conservation of our water resources,” Mengarelli said. “However, this is a complex matter, and we want to make sure we get it right for the citizens of Prescott.”
The mayor also pointed out that a Regional Water Summit will take place on Nov. 14. The summit will bring together representatives from the state, county and local governments to discuss the city’s new policy “and how to move forward to bring the Prescott Active Management Area (AMA) into safe yield by 2025.”
The public summit is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, at the Centennial Center, 1989 Wineglass Drive, near the airport.
The full agenda for the Nov. 12 City Council meeting will be available for public review on or around Friday, Nov. 8. Information on the water policy is available at: http://www.prescott-az.gov/water-sewer/water-management/water-policy/.