County Talk: Managing water resources is important - The Explorer: Columns

County Talk: Managing water resources is important

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Chuck Huckelberry

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 4:00 am | Updated: 9:01 am, Wed Jul 25, 2012.

It might surprise you that I agree with Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson regarding the importance of managing water resources.  Water is a vital resource for future growth and development.  However, I completely disagree with the Town’s strategy to take over Pima County’s wastewater facilities for this purpose.

First, Marana residents should understand the County offered to give the Town 90 percent of the water Marana customers contribute to the Marana Wastewater Reclamation Facility (MWRF) without cost.  In other words, for free.  Marana turned down this offer and instead has entered into prolonged litigation with the County that has cost both Marana residents and Pima County a lot of taxpayer money; a huge and complete waste.

Given current market conditions, for the approximately $2 million it will cost each year to operate the Marana plant, the Town could have bought thousands of acre feet of water from the Central Arizona Water Conservation District to feed Marana’s growth.  Today, Marana’s acquisition of our treatment facility will get them only an additional 28 acre feet of water.  This litigation, the facility acquisition cost, and the annual operating and maintenance cost of the MWRF, will be a fiscal disaster for Marana residents.

It should be noted that the Arizona Court of Appeals recently affirmed a previous ruling that awarded the County our attorneys’ fees for this ill-advised litigation.

Now the Town wants to take County regional ratepayer assets at less than their fair value to advance Marana’s manifest destiny regarding the ownership of effluent, 90 percent of which the County agreed to give for nothing.  We must protect the fiscal interest of our regional ratepayers, which is why this litigation will continue until the ratepayers are fully reimbursed for the cost to construct and finance the Marana wastewater plant.

Given the significant issues facing our region, it is unfortunate Marana continues down a path that wastes already stretched public resources pursuing unnecessary litigation and biased legislation.  Our regional sewer ratepayers and the residents of Marana will pay the financial consequences of this misguided course of action.

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