Thursday, September 18, 2008

Local water study committee update

I have managed to make it to the two most recent meetings and it has been getting gradually more interesting. The presentations last week, on climate change and related water resources planning impacts, were both excellent and very informative for people who have not followed the scientific developments and predictions for the Southwest. At this week's meeting I was only able to stay for the first presentation, describing the importance of considering the environment in water resources and land use planning. The second presentation on local environmental impacts and planning efforts relating to water resources should have been interesting and was timely considering the discussion of the committee members that morning.
There was a motion to expand the Phase I study area to include parts of eastern Pima Co. outside of the combined Tucson Water-Pima Co. Wastewater service area. The motion was to only include those areas not currently served by a water provider - and there was some confusion as to what that exactly meant - but the overall intention was to look at areas where there might be important riparian resources that would need to be protected from future development. This is an important idea that needs to be taken into consideration, but I'm not sure if it's appropriate for Phase I - the inventory phase. However, there is probably some value in at least putting those sensitive areas on a map for future consideration - most likely in Phase II. There has also been some indication at both meetings that other water providers are starting to show an interest in getting involved in the process - I believe that the more entities brought to the table in this effort, the better the final product will be.
As to Phase II, the committee chair presented (I think for the first time) a proposed structure for the Phase II portion of the study. It was a very rough outline, but the broad goals it presented were very ambitious. And I believe they represent what most people felt would be main purpose of this effort - considering the changes that would need to be made - ordinances, policies, and comprehensive plan amendments - to achieve what is envisioned for the future growth of our community. Big stuff, but it is still early in the process. We'll have to see how this develops as Phase I approaches the wrap-up point.
As always - info on the study is available at their website:

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