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Reclaimed Water Ordinance on Tuesday’s Flagstaff City Council Agenda

James Q Martin

On Tuesday night, the Flagstaff City Council voted four to three not to revisit an ordinance contained in the city’s water policy having to do with the renewal of reclaimed water sales contracts. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, some in the community have been calling on the council to reinstate its authority over those contracts.

Since 2002, selling reclaimed water has mostly been the domain of the city’s utilities department. Some members of the city council support revisiting the policy. They frame it as an attempt to increase accountability and transparency in the sometimes contentious process.

Several groups and businesses like golf courses, manufacturers and the Arizona Snowbowl purchase about 2,200 acre-feet of reclaimed water annually from the city. Utilities Director Brad Hill says they all have to satisfy financial as well as city, state and federal requirements. But any politically charged aspects of these sales aren’t part of his decision making.

“These are things that administratively we do all the time and have done since 2002 for a variety of our customers. This one with Snowbowl clearly gets the attention, but I think it’s important to understand it from an administrative perspective these are just things that we do in how we manage our reclaimed program.”

According to Hill, about one-fifth of the more than 10,000 acre-feet of water per year sold by the city is reclaimed. Last year, the utilities department renewed Snowbowl’s contract to support its snowmaking program for 20 years — the city’s maximum extension.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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