Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday Guest Blog...

From time to time I get a request from another person to share an article that they have written and produced. Today's guest blog appearance comes from our friend Donna Crouse. I've known Donna for some years now and all the while she has maintained a zeal for local political water issues. So I'm more than pleased to share the following with everyone here at MOCO.

Today's subject from Donna is more discussion on HB 2142. I'll say again that in this particular water subject I'm having a difficult time following along to get to a point to say I'm in support of, or this bill needs to be voted down. So I'm simply sharing the writing that Donna has offered. I hope you will read it and at the very least see a continued discussion.

All of the following words were written by Donna... enjoy.

The Emperor’s New Clothes….HB 2142
by Donna Crouse

Do you remember the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes? If you recall, there weren’t any clothes at all yet the emperor was deceived into believing that he was draped in finery beyond compare. The hoax was well contrived due to the tailor’s convincing story that only the smartest people of the highest class would be astute enough see the clothes. Try as I have, I cannot understand the benefits of HB 2142 to the county, Kingman or the Mohave County Water Authority, I just can’t see the clothes.

First, I truly feel that the members of the city Council and Mayor do hold what is best for the city of Kingman most dear. Those who I have met from the MCWA take their positions very seriously. But I feel that the tailors of HB 2142 have convinced them that the bill is something it is not.

Should HB 2142 pass, the wheels are already in motion for MCWA to sell the 3500 acre-feet for $500 an acre foot to Golden Shores and/or the Mohave Valley Irrigation District. Since these entities fall into a category that MCWA will accept a 10% transfer fee for handling, Kingman will receive 90% of the proceeds or $450 per acre foot for a total of approximately $1,575,000.00 that could be used towards drilling the needed wells to support the municipal water services to the newly annexed Rattlesnake Wash projected area properties. The MCWA will receive 10% or about $175,000.00 that could be used in the purchase of new water supplies for their district that includes, Bullhead City, Golden Shores, Lake Havasu City and Mohave Valley.

Should HB 2142 fail, then the industrial use only restriction on the water will remain and Kingman will get what? According to the contract with MCWA if the water is sold to an industrial user, their fee is 50% meaning that Kingman will only get 50% of the proceeds from the sale. There are state statutes that regulate the amount that the MCWA and Kingman can charge an industrial user for the water. Should an industrial user apply for the water, they can only be charged a minimum of $1050 per acre foot, or the going CAP rate, meaning the minimum Kingman would receive would now be $525 per acre foot for the same water, totaling approximately $1,837,500.00, a difference of an additional $262,500.00 that could still be used to drill the needed wells for the Rattlesnake Wash area project. And the MCWA would have about $1,837,500.00 to further purchase more water for its district, a difference of $1,662,500.00! The problem is there is no industrial user who has applied for the water.

Maureen George stated in March 25, 2009’s town hall, that the river cites are in a better position to rely on tourism as the core or base of their economic development, however, Kingman is more suited to support industry. When asked if the county’s economic development director, Jonas Peterson had been notified that this water was available in support of industrial promotion to the county, the response was no. When asked what had been done by the MCWA to promote this water’s availability to industry the response was nothing. When asked how an industrial developer was supposed to find out this water was available for use, the response was by contacting the federal Bureau of Reclamation. This could explain why no industrial developer has applied for the use of this water over the past 15 years.

Now we are being told to “use it or lose it”. When asked how that works, Maureen George explained that every 5 years the Bureau of Reclamation asks for a report from its allocated users that shows how much water is being used out of the allocated supply. The Bureau of Reclamation can at any time determine that it is going to take back any water that is not in use and can take back any water that is in use. The condition of use continually motivates those who receive the allocations to justify their priority need for their water. This 3500 acre-feet was reviewed last year and Board of Supervisor Johnson managed to retain the water for the county by promising to find an industry that would apply for this water. Mr. Johnson spoke of his attempts and that in fact at the time he did have an industrial developer who was seriously contemplating applying for that water, however the current economic crunch had postponed or possibly eliminated this particular opportunity. Mayor Nexxum has alluded that had his municipality been allowed to sell water services outside of their district that they could have sold water to support 4 different industrial projects. So even though no one has applied for these water allocations, it seems that industry has shown interest in our area.

The final point made during the town hall was that this county has a finite amount of water. Former mayor of Kingman, Carol Anderson had previously stated that in order to successfully meet the state requirements in granting the original allocations to MCWA, Kingman had to prove that it had sufficient water supply to support a community of 100,000 people for 100 years as of 1994. By 2050 some numbers suggest that the Kingman area could have a population of an estimated one million people. That is 10 times the number of people projected for in 1994, so once we hit the 100,000 mark how accurate will that 100 year supply theory be? Will there be enough water to support those living in the area and where will they work?

I agree that we currently have sufficient, even ample supplies of water to support future growth. I also agree that industry is the key to the success of our economic development. And I agree that we have a finite amount of water to support it all. In order for Mohave County to continue to be a thriving and viable place to live, we must start utilizing and sustaining our resources. Bullhead City, Golden Shores, Lake Havasu City and Mohave Valley are river communities that have limited resources for water beyond what they can acquire through the allocations of the Bureau of Reclamation from the Colorado River. This is nothing new to any of those communities. Since 1994, they have grown to the limits of or near limits of those allocations. What efforts have been placed into researching and acquiring more sustainable resources than relying on the MCWA to negotiate more water allocations from Kingman? What will they do once this 3500 acre-feet has been tapped as well? Wouldn’t $1,837,500.00 in available funds secure more resources than $175,000.00?

Meanwhile, Kingman must consider its best use of this water. Mayor Salem has stated many times that should HB 2142 fail; the city has other resources available to support the annexation of the Rattlesnake Wash Project. There is no impending need for Kingman to sell this water at this time. There is never an impending need for Kingman to ever sell this water for less than full market value! Kingman must concentrate itself into a successful economic development promotion to attract industry into the area utilizing all of its available resources, including water resources. Kingman is in the best position to enhance all of Mohave County by keeping that water available for industrial uses only. It will take Kingman working together with Mohave County in a unified promotional program to bring the right industrial developments into our area for our future prosperity.

Since the Bureau of Reclamation was looking for its answers last year, we have about 4 more years to see if we can find an industrial developer to use this water. A good start would be working with the county to promote its availability. Kingman and the county have far more to gain than just the actual difference between 50% or 90% of the proceeds due to Kingman or the MCWA depending upon whom this water is sold to. I have been told by one of the tailors of HB 2142 that I need to leave the water issues up to those who know what’s best, apparently so has Kingman and the MCWA, how else can you explain their support of HB 2142? I must be simple; I just don’t see the Emperor’s Clothes.

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