Column | BOS should turn off the GVID spicket and let it run itself

Recently Kathy Mishler wrote about huge proposed rate increases in Golden Valley Improvement District, questioning the county’s rationale. She provided good reasons why there should be no increase. There are other facts that expose serious problems with the county’s proposal.

GVID has 1,774 customers, of which 1,320 are metered households. They use less than 25 percent of available water. In 1990, the Arizona Department of Water Resources limited GVID to 6,200 allocations (200 gallons per day per hookup). GVID assigned 4,989 allocations to existing property owners, and the rest were available for sale. Four hundred and forty-two of the allocations remain unsold.

In June 2006 the cost of those allocations skyrocketed from $474 to $1,137; now the price escalates 9.3 percent annually. Only 15 have been purchased over eight years, yet GVID plans to sell all remaining allocations at $5,200 each this year. Does anyone believe that?

Next, the County wants to spend $2 million for another well and tank to achieve “redundancy.” Really? The maximum capacity for the two wells exceeds 438 million gallons annually; that’s four times GVID’s current water sales. GVID also owns two other wells. Remediation of existing wells is cheaper than drilling. There’s no need for more redundancy.

Even if GVID needed another well and tank, the existing customers shouldn’t pay. The district’s Policy & Procedure Memorandum states, “The District will look to the developer to pay the cost of increasing the capacity of the system to serve the proposed development. Depending on the size of those developments, the cost may be that of drilling a new well, constructing a new storage tank, laying new water lines, or all of the above.” Simply put, the developer, not existing customers, pays for system expansion. Doesn’t the county follow their own policies?

Finally, the county’s attitude about GVID & development in Golden Valley appears to be schizophrenic. In a Daily Miner article from January 2007, then Public Works Director Mike Hendrix said, “Golden Valley has immense potential for growth.”

Yet, five years earlier, the Golden Valley Area Plan stated, “Water is scarce in the semiarid southwestern United States. Mohave County’s Sacramento Valley is no exception, with only ephemeral streams flowing in the otherwise dry washes during the rainy seasons.” In 2006, a developer speaking to the Board said that GVID said they would not give water allocations to developers. Mohave County Planning & Zoning makes decisions based on this attitude, as detailed in the Golden Valley Area Plan (2002).

The claim of scarcity is misleading at best. Precipitation is low, not ground water storage. Recent reports prove that. ADWR’s “preliminary” report (OFR10, March 2008), shows GVID has 35 percent more groundwater than Valley Pioneers Water Company. Yet, VPWC has 60 percent more metered customers and pumps 75 percent more water than GVID. That didn’t include water pumped to Mineral Park Mine with no significant drop in water levels. Further, Valley Pioneers has no limit on hookups. The county charges people to purchase those hookups, while VPWC doesn’t charge for the “privilege.”

ADWR’s report stated the Sacramento Valley Aquifer contained 9.5 Million acre-feet (MAF) of water. It stated USGS’ study would “supplant” theirs. USGS issued its 2013 report stating there was 28.4 MAF. That’s triple ADWR’s estimate.

Like Kingman, Golden Valley gets all its water from groundwater. ADWR stated Golden Valley has as much water as Kingman. Though USGS tripled Golden Valley water storage in their report, Kingman’s estimate was virtually unchanged. If Kingman’s aquifer can support over 40,000 people, GVID’s certainly can, if not more.

The county believes there’s little water and restricts development. It’s time they change their attitude. The supervisors approved asking ADWR to increase the allocations in 2006. That application wasn’t completed in four years and ultimately withdrawn. The USGS estimate demands the county reapply, not raise costs for existing customers.

There are other issues that should be addressed. They include paying some department and division heads out of GVID, charging the district 9 percent of their expenses ($40,000) for financial services versus 2 percent for the rest of Public Works Department, and taking $150,000 from GVID to build a new Public Works building in 2012. There’s just not enough space.

The supervisors need to look at the facts and reject the proposal, while revisiting the area plan. Better yet, convert GVID to a domestic water district with its own board of directors. Coming from the district, property owners would represent residents much better.

After all, they would have “skin in the game.”