The Daily Courier
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Yavapai County Supervisor Carol Springer, a former state senator who was intimately involved in water legislation, is attacking far-reaching water bills that appear to be moving toward legislative approval.
The companion bills have received widespread support among municipalities in Yavapai County. The Senate already has approved its version.
The bills would let local governments adopt a "water adequacy rule" that would allow them to deny the creation of subdivisions if the Arizona Department of Water Resources concludes they don't have adequate water supplies. Rep. Lucy Mason, R-Prescott, is sponsoring House Bill 2693 while Senate Minority Leader Marsha Arzberger, D-Willcox, is sponsoring the companion Senate Bill 1575.
"There has been so much positive movement on these bills to address everyone's concerns over the last six months," Mason said. She and Springer have not talked about Springer's issues.
A final vote in the House is on hold while legislators wait for a companion bill to catch up, Mason said. The companion bill creates a loan fund to help local governments build water infrastructure, as long as they have adopted the adequacy rule. Mason said she will make sure HB2693 matches SB1575.
The bills stem from recommendations by the Statewide Water Advisory Group, which the state created to come up with recommendations to improve rural water management.
"There is an old saying about legislation: 'What the big print giveth, the fine print taketh away,'" Springer said. "These bills don't giveth local control, they taketh it away."
Mason and Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Herb Guenther disagree with Springer.
This bill is a major step toward protecting Arizona residents' water supplies, Guenther said.
"Water law in Arizona is dysfunctional as it stands now," Guenther said. "In fact, rural water management is dysfunctional. We allow mining (depletion) of groundwater, and all that means is, we're putting off the problem to future generations."
Springer, who chaired the successful petition drive to get Proposition 207's protections against "government takings" into law this past fall, says the bills will set counties up for lawsuits based on Prop. 207.
So far, no one has tested Prop. 207 in court. Springer says she doesn't want Yavapai County to be the first test, especially since the local government also might have the expensive burden of proving a water supply is inadequate.