Mohave County ponders new rules for water, development

KINGMAN - Chairman Steve Moss is doing everything in his power to protect Mohave County's dwindling water resources, taking a preliminary step Monday to require developers to show 100 years of water adequacy for new subdivisions.

The Board of Supervisors voted 4-1, with Buster Johnson opposed, to direct the County Attorney's Office to work with Development Services on an amendment to Land Division Regulations to show water adequacy in accordance with state law.

"I think it's covered the way we have it now," Johnson said.

Thousands of Mohave County residents live on "dry lots," or lots that have no municipal service or guaranteed water supply, he said.

State law requires a unanimous vote by the board of supervisors to change the county's subdivision regulations. The motion will be brought back for discussion in 90 days.

Moss said the water adequacy amendment is a "different process to get the same results" as his water reclamation ordinance, which will require the use of treated effluent water when available by Jan 1, 2018.

It's primarily targeted at water features such as manmade lakes, decorative pools and ponds, fountains, streams and waterfalls. It also applies to businesses with three or more acres of landscaping and that are within one mile of a reclaimed water line.

Both ordinances are aimed at dealing with water adequacy for future growth.

"We do have a problem with our water resources that could increase over time and create a burden on growth for Mohave County," Moss said at Monday's board meeting.

The new ordinance would require developers to assure homeowners they'll have enough water for 100 years.

Supervisor Gary Watson said he has about 65 subdivisions in his district and most of them could not meet those conditions for water adequacy.

Moss said he's worried that homeowners might glance over a public report and fail to read two or three sentences dealing with inadequate water supply, just as they're unlikely to read 30 pages or more of mortgage documents before signing them.

In other action Monday:

• The board voted 5-0 to consolidate Lake Mohave Ranchos Fire District into Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District.

John Flynn, appointed administrator of the financially insolvent Lake Mohave Ranchos Fire District in 2013, said the district was about $750,000 in debt when he implemented a financial recovery plan two years ago.

The fire district has not been able to keep up with vehicle maintenance in the past and had to replace an ambulance, which was a minor setback in the recovery plan, Flynn said.

Supervisor Johnson said the decision to consolidate should be made by taxpayers in the fire district, which serves Dolan Springs, Meadview and Lake Mead City, not by the board of supervisors. He also asked if the county would be paid back by July, and Flynn answered affirmatively.

• The board voted 4-1, with Johnson opposed, to authorize an increase in the Treasury Department's full-time employees from 21.5 positions to 22 positions. The action was "budget neutral," which means no additional funding is needed for the position.

Treasurer Cindy Landa Cox said she made adjustments in her staff's pay scale, using savings from a part-time position that's gone after 30 years.

• The board tabled a consent agenda item to approve new prisoner housing rates of $78 a day with a $61 booking fee, as determined by the Office of Management and Budget.