Legislative Panel to Meet with Yuma Water Stakeholders
After the uproar caused earlier this year by a bill introduced in the Legislature that would have authorized the establishment of authorities to buy and sell water, an ad hoc committee is hitting the road to seek input from rural areas on more palatable solutions to address the state’s water needs.
The committee’s first stop will be Yuma, where it will meet with Yuma-area residents and stakeholders at 10 a.m. Friday in the council chambers at Yuma City Hall, One City Plaza. The meeting in Yuma will be chaired by Rep. Darin Mitchell, who represents parts of Yuma and Maricopa counties.
The ad hoc committee also includes Rep. Brenda Barton of Payson, who chairs the House Agriculture and Water Committee; Frank Pratt of Pinal County; and Yuma County Rep. Lisa Otondo. Mitchell and Pratt also sit on the Agriculture and Water Committee, where the controversial HB 2338 was held due to the many concerns expressed by Yuma County and other rural areas.
“As long as the chairman of Water and Agriculture holds HB 2338 in committee and does not release it back to its author, it can go nowhere,” stated Barton. “This gives us time to work with all parties to craft a bill that will benefit all of Arizona’s diverse water interests.”
Doing just that will keep the ad hoc committee busy this summer. In addition to Friday’s meeting in Yuma, the group will hold meetings in Sierra Vista on June 14, Flagstaff on June 21, Prescott on June 28 and Payson on July 12, then regroup in Phoenix to go over the input gathered.
“We want to make sure the people in rural Arizona are heard,” said Barton. “I’m looking forward to going to different areas and hearing people’s thoughts on water.”
Friday’s meeting will start with a presentation by Herb Guenther, former head of the Arizona Water Resources Department who now is a consultant on water issues. Then comments will be taken from the public, followed by discussion.
Anyone wanting to speak must fill out a speaker form. It may be necessary to limit individual time, depending on the number of people who want to speak. Written statements will be entered into the record upon request. Ensure your name and who you represent is on submitted documents.
All pertinent documentation may be found at http://azleg.gov/PressReleases.asp?Body=3. Print information off the Web page that you would like to bring to the meeting, as copies will not be available there.
HB 2338, introduced by House Speaker Andy Tobin, grew out of concern for unsustainable water supplies in many parts of the state as a growing population outstrips a dwindling water supply brought on by a lingering drought.