COTTONWOOD -- The Middle Verde Water Advisory Committee, the sub-group of the countywide water advisory body, met at the county administrative building in Cottonwood Wednesday afternoon. Representatives of nearly every Verde community attended the meeting and began planning to move forward.
Coordinator John Rasmussen reviewed the organization plan of the smaller body. The membership is composed of appointed or elected officials of the larger WAC body as the only voting members. Supervisors will be attending the meetings, but will not be voting members. Officials of the Arizona Department of Water Resources also have said they will attend meetings but not be members.
Decisions will be made by a majority of the members present, assuming a quorum, and follow the open meeting law. Subcommittee chair, John Martinez noted to clarify for the record, the body may vote and recommend, but each jurisdictions must agree to implementation.
Doug Von Gausig of Clarkdale said that it was just a "typical" organizational plan.
The WAC's technical advisory committee, the WACTAC, will be available to the sub-group on a job specific basis, though little money is available in the subgroup budget.
The group decided they should send a response to the McCain and Flake letter that urges officials in the Verde River Watershed to develop a long-term water management strategy that protects the Verde River. It was unclear if the senators' letter anticipated any potential funding. But, the response letter, they decided should include the logos of each city and town plus other non-governmental organizations.
Much of the discussion anticipated the release of the so-called CHYWRMS study (pronounced 'sy-worms'). The Central Yavapai Highlands Water Resources Management Study of a projection of the population and water needs through 2050 and a series of alternatives to meet the needed supply.
It was suggested that public support is needed for the alternatives contained in the CHYWRMS
Supervisor Tom Thurman said, "It is time to put boots on the ground. We will need a buy-in from all of Northern Arizona for CHYWRMS and will need a huge amount of dollars to fix problems."
Von Gausig suggested the Verde River Basin Partnership could help bring people together.
Rasmussen summarized the goals of the group as a well-publicized CHYWRMS forum, gathering expert opinion on what data needs for the Verde and continued education.
Splitting the WAC in two may very well have yielded two halves, each that can now get more work done without the politics of "the other side" slowing them down. However, as Thurman said, we need buy-in from Northern Arizona and that means the other half of the WAC too. That'll happen with CYWRMS perhaps but I foresee any real management strategies falling into the gears of the same old politics.