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9:03 PM Wed, Dec. 12th

How much water is there?

County seeks answers in Golden Valley

KINGMAN - As a decade-long drought ravages the precious supplies of water in the county's aquifer, the county has decided to perform more studies to ascertain the true amount of water within Golden Valley Improvement District 1.

In a set of motions at the Board of Supervisor's June 19 meeting, Golden Valley Improvement District was given permission to hire Paul Manera to perform an additional study on the Sacramento Aquifer to see if more allocations could be found for the Golden Valley Improvement District.

The district limited the sale of unassigned water allocations on June 19 due to the fixed amount left.

According to the revised policy, "The district will continue to sell unassigned service connections or water access rights on a first-come, first-served basis to owners of properly zoned parcels of ministerial land divisions, determined on the basis of zoning classification of June 19, 2006, within the district."

When the district created water allocations in 1990, parcels were allocated water connections by their size, said Steve Latoski, Public Works engineering manager. Larger parcels were allowed more than one water allocation; however, he said they are not all in use, leaving them eligible for purchase by other landowners.

The problems within the district began when state laws changed in 1994 to allow more legally zoned parcels to be created, Public Works Assistant Director Nick Hont said.

The consequence of this action was that the owners within the district have the potential to create more properly zoned parcels than the district has allocations.

In 1990, a hydrological study was completed within the boundaries of the 40-square-mile Golden Valley Improvement District. The study, submitted and approved by the Arizona Department of Water Resources, resulted in ADWR determining there were 6,200 water allocations within the district, Latoski said. Of those, 4,985 were assigned to district parcels. The remaining 1,215 allocations were held in reserve for future sales, he said.

As of June 28, 573 of those allocations were sold, leaving 642 still available for sale. Public Works Director Mike Hendrix said it was initially intended for every parcel within the district to have one allocation.

"We needed to come up with a game plan that would protect the current residents and address the goals of the district while protecting the water," he said.

It is the assertion of the district that the aquifer would allow more water allocations than the study initially dictated.

They therefore rehired the hydrologist, Manera, who had done the original study.

There were those who objected to the Board of Supervisors approving about $11,000 in additional funding to the contract price to study water outside the district, totaling $44,900 for the whole project.

Golden Valley resident Susan Bayer said the study was unnecessary and a waste of money. She said that the county and the district already have sufficient information to draw on for a proper evaluation. She questioned if the county was pursuing this study because Dorado and Mission Hills want to come into the district to "continue pillaging the water left."

"So, frankly, we have paid $100,000 to the (United States Geological Survey) for this study for the entire aquifer and now we're going to pay another $45,000 to an engineer to give us an evaluation of information that we've already got?" she said.

Likewise, resident Robert Hollsinger said he was opposed to spending this amount of money. He said he believed the district already had sufficient information on the aquifer and it was common knowledge that the aquifer was being overdrafted since 1980. To throw more money away when they already have the information was foolish, he said.

Hendrix disagreed with the two residents, saying that more information is needed quickly. The contract has already been approved with Manera to study the aquifer for more allocations within the district. The additional money was to look for allocations outside the district to handle the growth.

"We don't want to be shortsighted within the district. These additional allocations that we're going after, … they are on a first-come, first-served basis. We are aware that Rhodes development has acquired their allocations, they have acquired a significant number of allocations for their proposed development. I think it behooves Mohave County to actively manage our water resources and try to obtain the additional allocations that we will need for future growth in the district, otherwise our growth will be stifled," he said.

The approved contract dictates an Oct. 31 completion date for the study.