4/12/2012 3:56:00 PM Permit revoked for controversial well in Rimrock MRWC also in violation of ADEQ order
Yavapai County has revoked a special use permit it issued two years ago to the Montezuma Rimrock Water Company to operate a well on a residential lot. Without the use of the well, the company's water system will be unable to supply enough water for an arsenic treatment facility.
RIMROCK - Yavapai County Development Services has notified the Montezuma Rimrock Water Company that effective April 5, the use permit issued for a well the company drilled on a residential lot, has been revoked.
In a letter dated April 10, Senior Planner Tammy Dewitt notified MRWC owner Patsy Olsen that the use permit was revoked because the company failed to secure a certificate of compliance demonstrating that it was "operating within compliance with all local, state and federal regulations."
MRWC was issued a use permit for the well on March 15, 2010, over the objections of neighborhood activists who argued it could endanger Montezuma Well and that it was drilled on a lot that did not comply with setback requirements.
The well is a necessary component of MRWC's effort to comply with federal arsenic standards. Without it, a planned arsenic treatment plant would lack sufficient volume to operate.
Development Services had issued an extension to the use permit a year ago.
"We have the ability under county code to make one, one-year extension. If the permittee is unable to comply with the stipulations of the permit, they must go back to the board of supervisors for any further extensions," said Development Services Director Steve Mauk.
County code gives Olsen 30 days to appeal the revocation.
Shortly after the board of supervisors issued the use permit, two neighborhood activists, John Dougherty and Fred Shute, filed a lawsuit challenging the decision, based on several issues including the setback requirements in the county water code.
Olsen subsequently filed a cross claim asking the judge to declare the county water code's setback requirements unconstitutional under state law.
On Monday, the county joined Dougherty and Shute in asking the judge to dismiss Olsen's claims.
On Tuesday, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality issued MRWC a Notice of Violation, which puts the utility on notice that the department believes the company is in violation of an ADEQ order to have the arsenic treatment plant on line by April 7, 2012.
"We just received the Yavapai County letter and are analyzing it to understand its impact. We're evaluating MRWC's compliance with the consent order and what enforcement actions, if any, are appropriate, given the situation,' ADEQ spokesperson Mark Shaffer stated in an email.
Dougherty, who is also involved it two cases before the Arizona Corporation Commission involving Olsen and MRWC, says he is relieved to see the county revoke the use permit.
"I have been made into a villain, to the point where I have been labeled a racist and sexist, which is outrageous. It's good to see the county step up and do what they should have done to begin with. With them now taking the lead it's a great relief to me," said Dougherty.