NOTES to water briefing
Note 1: This report uses pseudonyms for almost everyone who
helped with basic work or comments. Friendly Critic, SVSkeptic,
Well Placed Source, Marnee Ford, Indispensable, Dedicated, you know
(individually) who you are, and this report could not possibly have
been written without your criticism and suggestions. This writer
cannot thank any of you enough.
Note 2: A map of the San Pedro's watershed is at
Excellent reports about the Basin are at
and there's an extensive photo tour at
Note 3: There's a long and winding trail of control from one
giant company in Canada, the Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp.
(APUC), to Algonquin Power Co., to Algonquin Holdco, to Algonquin Power
Fund (Canada) Inc., to Algonquin Power Fund (America) Inc., to Liberty
Water Co. (the patriotic name that this Canadian company chose for what
used to be named Algonquin Water Resources of America, Inc.), and
finally to Bella Vista, Northern Sunrise, and Southern Sunrise.
See the organization chart at
taken from the Annual Information Form in APUC's 2010 report to the
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. A New York Times article
shows Bella Vista water as serving 22,500 people, Northern Sunrise
water as serving 890 people, and Southern Sunrise as serving 1996
people. The company says, basically, that Bella Vista serves
Sierra Vista, Northern Sunrise serves Whetstone, and Southern Sunrise
Note 4: At the September 5, 2006, BOS meeting -- the minutes are at
-- a CCIPRA member asked during the Call To the Public (which was then
at the beginning of the meetings, where it can be useful) to move a
discussion about funding for the USPP from the consent agenda (where
nobody could talk about it), and the discussion was removed from the
consent agenda, and then-County Administrator Jody Klein discussed
it. According to the minutes, Klein said that a proposed
Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) was "an administrative agreement
between the County and the City of Sierra Vista. He said it does
not commit the county to any budget allocations -- that any County
monies committed to the Upper San Pedro Partnership (USPP) are
committed through the normal budget process. He explained that
since the USPP is not a legal entity unto itself, the City of Sierra
Vista serves as a fiscal agent for the partnership, entering into
contracts for the USPP. Most funding and most expenses of the
USPP are paid through the City. On occasion, the County has a
contract that is independent of the USPP and the County acts as fiscal
agent for the USPP. He provided the example of the WaterWise
Program which is a contract between the County and the University of
Arizona (UofA), saying that the USPP saves the 6-7% administrative fee
normally charged by UofA because the County is acting as fiscal
agent. This IGA merely acknowledges the arrangement by which
either the City or the County could act as a fiscal agent for the
USPP. He added that any specific contracts that the County enters
into on behalf of the USPP require separate action by the Board.
Chairman Searle called for the vote and the motion passed unanimously."
Note 5: An Intergovernmental Agreement between the County and the
DOB was discussed at the January 29, 2008, meeting of the BOS.
The discussion -- online at
-- included "the reason for the IGA is that when legislation created
the USPWD Organizing Board, $250,000.00 in funding was budgeted to
defray administrative costs. The funding was channeled through
the Arizona Department of Water Resources rather than given directly to
the Board. ADWR now wants to give the money to the Board which is
a volunteer board with no professional staff and no ability to open
bank accounts or in any way take care of the funding. The County
is being asked to act as the fiscal agent to handle and control the
funding.... The County performs these duties for other special
districts and there is a fee schedule in place for reimbursement to the
county for services rendered. The Board is attempting to hire a
staff person but until that position is filled, the County is also
assisting with posting, filing, and other administrative duties.
The County will also be reimbursed for those services. Supervisor
Newman [an Arizona attorney] expressed his belief that there is a
strong possibility of legal conflict of interest by having the County
Attorney also providing legal advice to the Board. Mr. Hanson
[the deputy county attorney advising the BOS at this meeting] assured
him there is no legal conflict involved in the dual roles.
Chairman Searle clarified that this IGA only concerns the County's
duties as a fiscal agent, not a legal one.... [T]he motion
The IGA came up again at the July 1, 2008, meeting of the BOS. At
that time, the same attorney, Hanson, "stated that the [DOB] has been
functioning without staff. It is a nine member volunteer board
and ... they are in need of legitimate staff support.... This IGA
has been determined to be the best solution. This assistant will
be part time working 10-20 hours a month. Salary will be paid by
the County and reimbursement will be made by the [DOB,] which has
funding through the State. Supervisor Newman ... questioned Mr.
Hanson's membership on the [DOB] and was told it is State
mandated...." The minutes are online at
The IGA came up again at the June 30, 2009, meeting of the BOS.
This time, attorney Hanson said "the organizing board would like to
retain a consultant to function as an Outreach Coordinator to explain
technical aspects to the public. There is an existing IGA but it
does not cover the search for an Outreach Coordinator. There will
be no cost to the County and this IGA augments an existing IGA which
deals with managing payables and payroll, etc.... [T]he motion
Note 6: On the salinity issue, Sandy Kunzer, who opposes creating
the District, has a better answer than the proponents of the District
produced at the Gordley meeting. Sandy notes "this is based on
analogy to just about every other sedimentary basin in the Basin and
Range physiographic province. The deeper you go the older and
more saline the waters get. Proof? No! Very good
analogy? Yes." The proponents of creating a district should
appreciate Sandy's fairness, since he opposes the district.
However, the burden still remains on the District's proponents to
provide actual numbers about profitability, and to show that drilling
technology will not improve in the next 2000 years.
Note 7: Call's phony number is discussed in detail at
In 2006, Call went to the state legislature to speak about water conservation, and used the bogus "312" number. See
Call never answered public questioning about the "312" number; one
example was the BOS meeting of February 13, 2007, whose minutes are at
Call never recanted his "312" number, but eventually, after being exposed enough, he silently stopped using it.
A good overview, posted in 2007 and updated by this report, is
Note 8: There is some authority for Friendly Critic's suggestion
that a focus was always to conserve the flow of the Upper San
Pedro. From the BOS minutes for February 20, 2007: "Item 4
... to adopt Resolution 07-12 ... Supporting the Passage of a Bill ...
Creating the Upper San Pedro Water District.... [T]his bill arose
our of the Statewide Water Advisory Group process and it creates a
unique pilot project in the Sierra Vista Sub-Watershed that would
enable the area to deal with its water issues. He stated that the
bill would create an elected seven-member district board which would
have the ability to own, operate and do projects within the Sierra
Vista Sub-Watershed [and] to raise money by a water use tax that would
not apply to exempt wells, or agriculture or ranching....
Supervisor Newman emphasized the importance of including language in
the bill that indicated the reason for doing this is to save the Upper
San Pedro.... Following discussion ... it was agreed that Mr.
Klein would add another 'Whereas' clause in the Board's Resolution
indicating that the rationale for supporting this bill was to save the
San Pedro River.... the motion carried unanimously."
Based on that, it appears that there Newman's focus, at least, was on
"saving" the river, and that the other Supervisors went along with
him. But the same passage indicates that Newman's focus was
local, since it was not a purpose of the State bill. And by 2009,
history had been rewritten so that, instead of "saving the river" being
an afterthought as was revealed at the BOS meeting of February 20, 2007
meeting, "saving the river" had supposedly always been the major
priority. The BOS minutes from June 30, 2009, include "Hanson ...
said the legislature created the organizing board for the Upper San
Pedro Water District almost two years ago. Their primary charge
is to develop a plan for augmentation and conservation of the Upper San
Pedro River and present it to the voters at the next General
Election." The minutes are online at
An organization which rewrites history to serve its present needs cannot expect to find favor among the fact-based population.
In addition, there's plenty of evidence to show that Pat Call and big
builders were jumping up and down about the water supply for people,
not just for keeping the river pretty. Old BOS meetings are
replete with discussions about adequacy of the water supply for people,
not just for the river. Consider Smith Ranch, a huge house tract
that the Supervisors unanimously approved in 2005, and which the voters
resoundingly repudiated in 2006. Popular feeling against Smith
Ranch was so strong that IN ALL 64 VOTING PRECINCTS in Cochise County,
a majority of voters reversed what the Supes had done. The
minutes of the BOS meeting that approved Smith Ranch are at
According to the minutes, the discussion included:
"... A water conservation strategy is being proposed
through the use of Covenants, Conditions and Regulations (CC&R)....
"This master development plan received extensive
review by the ... Water Conservation Department, ... the Arizona
Department of Water Resources and a consulting firm which evaluated the
water impact, Geo Systems Analysis.
"... the factors used for this review were: ... water supply (adequacy and conservation) ....
"The original water study was not validated by the
consultant hired by the County. The applicant had this study
redone and the County's consultant has approved the results. The
Arizona Department of Water Resources will make the adequacy
determination. Staff is recommending that approval of this docket
be contingent upon their determination.
"[The County] cited the following factors in favor and against the rezoning:
"FACTORS IN FAVOR ...
"8. Projected water pumping impacts ....
"9. There is an opportunity for this
development to set a new standard for ... water conservation through
"10. A developer-paid wastewater
treatment/recharge system and water delivery system will minimize the
impacts normally associated with unregulated water use ....
"FACTORS AGAINST ...
"4. Water supply in the Benson sub-watershed
... needs to be addressed with the participation of all concerned.
"5. Pumping for the Smith Ranch Development is
projected to impact adjacent wells by up to 130 feet of drawdown after
100 years if conservation and recharge efforts are not implemented.
"... the key benefits of the Smith Ranch Development
Plan are ... innovative and comprehensive water program ....
"Mr. Rob Longaker, Project Manager ... covered the
issue of water supply, water impacts, water conservation and water
replenishment .... An annual water conservation performance audit
report will be submitted to Cochise County ....
"Ms. Mary McCool ... addressed the issue of water
depletion and urged the Board to obtain the Arizona Department of Water
Resources determination of adequacy before any zoning change.
"... residents spoke against this rezoning [raising
points including] There is a possibility that the San Pedro River may
dry up in some areas and that 2,000 wells may be affected....
"Vice Chairman Newman stated that the major concern
from most residents is the issue of water adequacy and water
recharge.... Diamond Ventures has agreed to provide an annual
water conservation/recharge report and the County is free to have an
audit performed by a third party....
"Chairman Call indicated ... that some issues are still paramount such as water ...."