Good afternoon -

With virtually no money to spend on projects and only one ongoing study (rural water well users), the USPP is, for the most part, left with little to do for the moment. Executive Committee meetings that used to last for two or three hours now take 30 to 40 minutes. Substantive presentations that are of interest and value to PAC members are much less common than in years past.

I believe that the USPP still has significant value to its members; I also believe that to have a meeting simply to ‘have a meeting’ is not only pointless but will result in a significant drop in attendance. It is the diversity of our membership, both in perspectives and participation, that has been a significant factor in the USPP’s usefulness over the last 15 years. For this reason, I have been reluctant to convene a PAC meeting for the last few months due to a lack of substantive material to consider.

I was going to hold a PAC meeting in April in order to have Laurel Lacher present the Groundwater Compendium report – but Laurel developed a conflict and had to cancel until May. This only left the approval of a new member and a report from USGS on their proposed reporting program. As a result, I decided to cancel the April meeting with concurrence from the members of Excom. The May meeting will be robust, informative and I urge everyone make sure it is on their schedule.

Tricia has suggested that the PAC meet in April to deal with some administrative concerns she has. Of the 26 members of the PAC, only three other members have indicated their support to hold a full PAC meeting to address these concerns. The April meeting will remain canceled.

However, the issues that Tricia has raised are relevant and could use some tweaking:

For those that are interested, I intend to bring these items to the next Excom for discussion and then bring them forward to PAC with suggestions as to possible ‘fixes’ and have a focused discussion in the near future.

Lastly, both Tricia and Jean expressed interest in re-visiting the strategic plan – and I agree. When our strategic plan was last visited, times were different. Today, growth is at a virtual standstill in the sub-watershed, Fort Huachuca (the county’s largest employer) is reducing its economic footprint, local governments (both cities and counties) are anticipating budgetary shortfalls over the next few years and Congressional funding has dried up. All USPP member partners are facing reduced staffing levels and serious budget concerns.

On the other hand, news on the water front is encouraging. Recalculation of water use by rural water users will result in a substantial reduction of the sub-watershed’s deficit. And current on-the-ground-projects by member partners have the potential to bring the current deficit to zero within the next five to ten years.

In these times, I believe it is time to ask: what is the Partnership’s purpose going forward?

During my association with the USPP over the last 15 years, I have seen the Partnership significantly re-define itself twice. We have been able to successfully evolve and adapt to changing times and new challenges in the past; this is the reason we are the most successful effort of its kind in the state. However, I believe the Partnership, if it is to remain relevant, needs to evolve again. And this needs to be much more than a casual conversation.

To this end, prior to the PAC meeting in May, I will be sending out a very brief survey for all the PAC members to think about. Basically, the survey will ask for your thoughts, given the current environment, as to what you believe the most valuable benefits your agency derives from participating in the USPP. This survey will be handed out in the May meeting to be completed during the meeting. Information derived from the survey will be used to begin the conversation on a strategic plan for the USPP going forward.

See you in May.