Proposed Prescott Water Policy Stirs Debate About Growth

Mar 17, 2020

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. 

City of Prescott
Credit City Government of Prescott

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.