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Science and Innovations

Proposed Prescott Water Policy Stirs Debate About Growth

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City Government of Prescott
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A controversial proposed water policy would allow the City of Prescott to deliver water to houses outside the city limits. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports. 

The proposal outlines an “expansion zone” where homeowners can apply to hook up to the City of Prescott’s water and sewage system. Clyde Halstead, the city's senior assistant attorney, says the goal is to reduce the number of homes using unregulated wells and septic tanks.

"You’ll see nationwide from just about every conservation group in the country, that it’s important for us to move more homes onto sewers than septic, so the water can be recharged into the underground aquifer and so we can benefit from the improved water quality," he says.

Halstead says the policy is not meant to benefit large developments, which can apply for annexation instead. But Joe Trudeau of the Center for Biological Diversity disputes that claim. He says the proposal will promote sprawl into undeveloped grasslands. "Every bit in water that we use in Prescott is a drop that’s not going to make it into the Verde River," he says. "We have to be extremely conscientious about how we allocate water going into the future."

The City of Prescott relies on the Little Chino aquifer which also feeds the Verde River. It’s one of five areas in Arizona subject to state regulation because of heavy reliance on groundwater.

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Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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