Friday, December 11, 2009

Kingman Colorado River allocations just another deposit in the bank.

Arizona House of Representative, Nancy McLain is keeping her promise to once again initiate a bill this coming session to pass legislation to lift the industrial use only allocation from the remaining 3500 acre feet of Colorado River water allocations still held by the city of Kingman. Water availability is a concern to all of us. Many of us fail to understand the terms, laws or the regulative authorities involved through out the State. Many base our opinion and understanding of information relayed upon what is applicable or tangible to us.

The Colorado River is regulated by the Federal Bureau of Reclamation. It would serve us well to understand that this is not State regulated water, although the state of Arizona does have authority to regulate its allotted water from the Colorado River. This is done primarily in conjunction with the Central Arizona Project, an active management area (AMA) better known as CAP. For now, forget what you may think you know about groundwater, surface water, AMA's, property rights, wells and basins. It is important that we all understand how the Colorado River allocations came to be:

Keep in mind that this agreement created a "bank" so that receivers could maintain their allocation excesses to prevent or ease the short term drought conditions or future availability declines. This was the beginning of the term "banking water", or to bank water credits. Originally intended to be shared among the States within their designated regions, as the demand for water became more prevalent in other States, the banked water is now being looked at by the Lower Colorado River Basin States as a solution for places as far from the river itself as San Antonio, Texas. Which brings into play the yet to be determined, "third party impact".

How Arizona may be affected seems alarming:

Remember, we are talking about Colorado River allocations now, not basins or wells or even Arizona surface water. The point needs to be made that Arizona has other resources as I am sure do the other seven states benefiting from the Colorado River allocations. This is key since Mohave County is sitting on four very large basins and though most of us in our area think that the Colorado River water has nothing to do with us, it does. As these allocations become less available, our basin water will become more vulnerable to the demands of the larger populations in the southern portions of the State.

Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City are "river communities". They have been very successful in keeping up the pace with their allotted river allocations and the politics that go with preserving those allocations. They have actively participated with Phoenix in banking their allocation excesses so why would they need to change legislation to purchase the remaining 3500 ac ft of industrial use only allocations from Kingman? Two thoughts come to mind. When you "bank" water, you are not storing actual water in a big reservoir to keep in reserve for when you need it. You are banking "credits", the water doesn't exist, it is just your interest or entitlement to that water that exists. So even though they have credits or water banked in Phoenix, it does not mean that Phoenix has the actual water to back those credits up. The river level rises and falls depending upon actual rainfall/snowfall run-offs, demand of use and the codes of threat advisory Homeland Security feels the dams may be under. It cannot be accurately predicted from one year to the next. CAP banks its credits with the other participating states of the Lower Colorado River Basin, which means it may not have the available water to access to send back down the line.

The other is as simple as the reasoning behind our Nation's current economic crisis that we have all been trying to sort out, greed. It is easy to bank credits that investors and lenders earn revenues from through the trade of shared interest, and we do all love to see those statements that show that our interest or account balance has grown. (Just ask Bernie's investors) But when the water banking bubble bursts, it is going to take more than a Stimulus Plan, Bailout or printing more money to keep us afloat. It will be Mohave County's actual water supply and economic development with it on the line to secure that Bullhead City, Lake Havasu City and the great state of Maricopa continue to thrive.

Now think wells, basins and surface water. That is where the "third party impact" is going to play out for us locally. Maybe it is also time to re-think pipeline and re-visit other possible solutions or explore new options. It is past time that we started considering the influence of the Colorado River allocations to Mohave County, we have to catch up with available resource options, educate ourselves politically, become as water savvy of the Colorado River allocations as we are groundwater. Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City are very versed on the applications and terms surrounding the Colorado River allocations, for them groundwater language, specifically aquifers not regulated by AMA's, and its applications are what is lacking fluency. Do not think for one moment that will hold them back or the MCWA from selling Kingman's allocations literally, down the river.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Golden Valley Ahead of Its Time?

Recently I have been involved with the Golden Valley Chamber of Commerce, which is non-profit and remains in operation by the commitment of its volunteers. It's seen its ups and downs over the past 26 years, but it has weathered and seasoned into its own hallmark. When I first moved to Arizona in 1997 the 'Chamber didn't have a building of its own and operated partially out of Ed Bruce's office up by the (soon to re-open) Ocotillo on Hwy 68. Even then, the 'Chamber was where newcomers got their info and residents stated their communal concerns. Preserving the rural lifestyle of Golden Valley has long been a struggle and has led to many rigorous conversations regarding growth, water availability and planning. The 'Chamber of course has remained neutral, not taking an official position one way or the other politically while offering as much information as available to the community.

Long before "Climate Change", "Global Warming", "sustainability" and other catch phrases of the day evolved into the latest used vernacular for "being green", the Golden Valley Area Plan Committee valued their goals of preserving their lifestyle enough to have it stated in the executive summary:"Guard the individual’s property rights, quality of life and the environment in this rural community. Obtain reasonable development density and open-space which will remain non-intrusive on the neighborhood. Look for and support commercial and industrial development that is environmentally sensitive, offers quality employment, provides for the needs of the community and increases the tax base. Develop healthy, uncluttered neighborhoods for all that own property and live within the community. Enhance public safety infrastructure and opportunities for family oriented activities. Nourish the quiet enjoyment, scenic views, and night sky that make this a wonderful environment for the entire community.
(see: pg. 2)

Finding commercial and industrial development that is environmentally sensitive, while offering quality employment and providing for the needs of the community while increasing the tax base has been a challenge over the past 35 years or so since the plan was adopted, but the times are rapidly changing. Seems that suddenly Golden Valley is more politically correct than once assumed. The growth controversies, water availabilities and economic development challenges may soon find themselves in an era of resolution and the Golden Valley Chamber of Commerce is taking its position of being the conduit of available information as a community oriented service for the 'Valley once again.

Hopefully most of you saw The Daily Miner this week with its highlight on Bobbi Case, the Golden Valley Chamber of Commerce President on the front page.


Mohave County has long searched and struggled to secure economic development that would perpetuate a stable and strong economic base. During the past few years, our I40 Industrial Corridor has seen its power source improved to actually support a manufacturing base to attract developers. Water availability issues are being worked on continuously and as expeditiously as possible to insure that there is water and service to support the Corridor. Mohave Community College and the JTED vocational courses are being quickly reviewed and modified to insure that we will have an available skilled work force to strengthen our "draw" to industry. We even have solar plants and the biodiesal plant approved with a new E-zone. So the next question should be as Bobbi poised, "Why couldn't we manufacture some of those things (solar panels and wind turbines or support equipment) here?" It may not have been the specific conception of the Golden Valley Area Plan Committee all those years ago when they initiated and approved the area plan, but Mohave County is desirable for the upcoming industrial age; renewable, sustainable...environmentally sensitive and very economically sound with plenty of tax revenue generating potential. And Golden Valley is strategically located to benefit.

The question that seems to remain unanswered is if Golden Valley's rural lifestyle can still be genuinely preserved along the way. Will the quiet enjoyment of the property owners along with their water rights, their quality of life be sacrificed or will the Golden Valley Area Plan be the sustaining force that not only encourages the current development d' jour but meets the original intent of its planning committee. Will Golden Valley remain a sleeper community en route between Kingman, AZ and Laughlin, NV or could it possibly be the model for rural communities facing similar issues across the nation? Who would have thought that a group of local people could have been so progressive 35 years ago before "Global Warming"/ "Climate Change", and to think, they were and still are, all volunteers. Volunteers and community service, even the participation has been conceptually "green".