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Mon, Dec. 09

<b>Water agreement with Havasupai vital to city's future</b>

At a meeting held July 22, Williams City Council gave its unanimous endorsement to a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the City of Williams and the Havasupai Tribe, which will allow the city to obtain a permanent use permit for Dogtown Well No. 1 from the Forest Service.

Last week, the Havasupai Tribal Council tabled a decision on the agreement to obtain more information, but city officials are still optimistic they will get tribal endorsement. The MOA is scheduled for consideration at the next tribal council meeting scheduled for Thursday.

“The Coconino Plateau Region, which includes the City of Williams and the Havasupai Reservation, is a sensitive, fragile and valuable land area,” the agreement states. “In the Coconino Plateau environment, water is a rare and important resource.”

It underscores how Williams has historically relied on reservoirs to provide water, which have proved insufficient in dry years.

The agreement acknowledges how important water is to this Native American tribe.

“The cultural significance that the Havasupai attach to the water of Grand Canyon, especially Havasu and other springs, is deep and abiding,” the agreement states. “The Havasupai believe that water circulating within the ground of the Coconino Plateau is the life-blood of the earth and the Havasupai ...

“The City of Williams recognizes the sacred importance of the seeps, springs and falls to the Havasupai people.”

However, the city contends Dogtown Well No. 1 won’t affect the water supply so vital to the tribe.

“The City of Williams believes that Dogtown Well No. 1 is on the south side of a fault called the Mesa Butte Fault and is not located within the Redwall-Muav aquifer,” it states. “Thus, the City believes that Dogtown Well No. 1 will not have an impact on the seeps and springs sacred to the Havasupai Tribe.

“The Havasupai Tribe retained a hydrologist who is of the opinion that Dogtown Well No. 1 might have an effect on the seeps and springs in the future if the draw down from Dogtown Well No. 1 causes water on the north side of the Mesa Butte Fault (within the Redwall-Muav aquifer) to migrate to the Dogtown Well No. 1 side of the fault.”

According to the memorandum, the Havasupai Tribe agrees:

• That it will not oppose the City of Williams’ request for a special use permit from the Kaibab National Forest for Dogtown Well No. 1.

• That it will support the City of Williams in securing additional surface water supplies and non--Coconino Plateau groundwater sub-basin supplies to meet its future municipal needs.

• That it may terminate this MOA and request that the Forest Service terminate the City’s Special Use Permit if the United States Geological Survey (USGS) determines that Dogtown Well No. 1 is in the Coconino Plateau groundwater subbasin.

In turn, the memorandum stipulates the City of Williams agrees:

• Not to expand the capacity of Dogtown Well No. 1 above 240 gallons per minute without the prior consent of the Tribe, which consent shall not be unreasonably withheld.

• To provide to USGS periodic reports regarding pumping and water-level (static level) information for monitoring of Dogtown Well No. 1, and any other of its existing or future deep supply wells. This includes pumping data for each well such as time, date, and amount of water pumped in terms of gallons per minute. When the well is not in service, the city will provide information regarding the recovery time for each well. The city also agrees to provide to the USGS any other well completion and hydrologic information for any of its deep wells, and to assist the USGS’ studies of the Arizona Rural Watershed Initiative-Coconino Plateau, and Hydrologic Assessment of South Rim Area, Grand Canyon National Park. The city further agrees to provide hydrologic information to the USGS for the well that it has drilled on the city’s rodeo grounds.

• It will only allow county residents (outside city boundaries) who were utilizing city water before July 2000 to continue to use the City of Williams as a source of water. Because of the water crisis in the summer of 2000, the city ceased allowing new county residents to have access to the city’s water supplies.

• That it will support efforts by the Havasupai Tribe to oppose development of the Redwall-Muav (water bearing) aquifer in the Coconino Plateau groundwater sub-basin in the event of new, large-scale development proposals in unincorporated areas of Coconino County. The city can satisfy its obligation by writing a short letter of opposition.

• That it will continue its efforts to implement and enforce water conservation measures.

• That it objects to the continued practice of Coconino County allowing people to build houses in unincorporated parts of the county without an available supply of water, which causes reliance on scarce municipal water resources.

• That it has been the long-standing position of the Havasupai Tribe that the tribe cannot tolerate any decrease in the natural flow of the Havasu Creek. The city supports this principle, except insofar as it applies to the city’s existing surface water sources. If the Havasupai Tribe requests that the Forest Service terminate the Special Use Permit for Dogtown Well No. 1, the city retains the right to oppose the Havasupai Tribe’s request.

Hopefully the Havasupai Tribal Council will see their way to approve this agreement in an expedient manner. Not only will it further good relations between the two entities, it will supply our town with a reliable water resource to see us through dry years.

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