Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Follow-up on post about city water service policy

I just wanted to follow up on a few loose ends related to my earlier post here.

This was where the city agreed to provide Tucson Water service to a development in the Tucson Mountains that appeared to contradict a previous decision by the city manager to refuse to expand Tucson Water's service area outside the city.

I know I justified the action taken by the city at that time because of flexibility built into the policy change, but also wanted to note that whenever exceptions are created to a new rule, cracks in that rule appear that often become wider over time as new exceptions arise. Specifically, if the agreement that supposedly existed between the city and a few landowners in this development was sufficient to overcome a presumption that service would not be provided, what other types of agreements would produce the same result. This could provide additional ammunition to the developers of the Painted Hills property to show that they were promised water service as well, or some other developer out there. I don't have all the details of what has transpired between the city and any other developers, but it can be a slippery slope once any exception is made.

I still think the city probably made the right decision on the Camino del Cerro property and consider it highly unlikely that they did not consider the full consequences of making that decision. But that doesn't take away from the fact that it's a decision some may regret down the road.

The other thing I wanted to bring up is related to the cost the property owners in the Camino del Cerro area will have to pay to bring city water in to their properties. Those numbers look comparable to some cost figures I have seen for installing rainwater collection and reuse infrastructure for home use. Did those landowners consider that option before pursuing city water? I'm sure reliability is a big concern and the certainty of having a reliable water supply helps resale value of the property. But if you could have a less expensive water supply for comparable up front cost, that makes it a tougher choice.

Here's a link to an article (large pdf file) on the Joint Water Study Committee website about rainwater collection systems for domestic water supply. On the first page is contact info for a local man named Charles Cole, who uses such a system at his home in the Tucson Mtns.

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