Editorial: City wise to delay one water policy change
We are glad City of Prescott leaders have delayed action on a controversial part of their proposed water-policy changes.
The reasons are varied.
City staff has been working for nearly a year to update Prescott’s water policy. Much of it deals with how the city manages its water portfolio, as well as having the policy more accurately reflect the reality of the community’s water usage.
One portion, however, would allow the city to provide water outside the city limits — to entities (subdivisions) that are not annexed. That is the part that has been delayed.
The logic behind it has it that the change would reduce the water overdraft in the Prescott Active Management Area, improve water quality, increase groundwater recharge, and decrease lost water. Critics cite feeding or fueling growth, benefiting developers, and promoting big developments, among other reasons — all despite a letter from the state saying the city could do so.
On the plus side, the city has been experiencing decreases in water use over the years, regardless of a gradual growth in population. Also, recharge efforts are helping the aquifer, surface water recharge is increasing, and Prescott has a new rebate program to further entice water-saving measures.
Still, some members of the public see allowing city water service outside of the city limits as detrimental to the long-term goal of safe-yield, which is the condition of balance between the amount of water being pumped and the amount being recharged back into the ground. The Prescott AMA, of which the city is a part, was told in the 1990s to reach safe yield by 2025.
The answers are multifaceted as to whether the city is on track to meet or beat that requirement, depending on who you talk to.
Add into this recipe the contention that any decisions should be delayed so the “new” council can be tasked with voting on it. Rewind to when the sitting council made the Deep Well decisions, ahead of seating a new council; the logic was they were the ones who had worked with staff and conducted all of the public meetings on the topic(s).
Each way — moving forward or waiting — has its benefits. Waiting, at a minimum, builds trust in the public.
In the end, we see the bulk of the water-policy changes as common sense updates and worthy of approval. The next airing of the policy changes will be Nov. 12, followed by a water summit on Nov. 14; thus, time exists for you to attend and learn more, even weigh in.
The biggest benefit we see in the water policy portion that would allow for city water use outside the city limits is it would theoretically rein in private wells — which are one of the biggest, unregulated water consumers in this push toward safe yield.
Watch dCourier.com and The Daily Courier for more details as this debate unfolds.