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Fri, Dec. 06

<b>Water agreement with Havasupai needs completion</b>

Certainly Williams' water situation is a far cry better than a year ago. With the reservoirs now at 41 percent, we aren't in dire straights, and the Rodeo Grounds Well should be on line in about a week.

Still, the city has invested heavily in the Dogtown Well. It's time to nail down a permanent use permit with the Forest Service — a permit which hinges on a memorandum of agreement with the Havasupai Indian Tribe.

Dennis Dalbeck, city manager, said a draft memorandum is now pending tribal approval.

“We have been working diligently with the Havasupai representatives to create a memorandum of agreement with them,” he said. “A draft has been prepared and a copy of that draft was submitted April 30 to Margaret Vick, the Havasupai attorney, for submittal to the tribe.

“We trust the Havasupai will be satisfied with this agreement and will come to an early acceptance of the document.”

He said the idea is to foster a relationship of mutual respect between the tribe and the city.

“The Havasupai are our neighbors to the north,” he said. “The city does not intentionally want to harm the Havasupai flow of the falls and springs and recognizes the religious connection it has for them.

“We are extremely low water users, averaging less than 73 gallons per person per day."

Dalbeck underscored the urgency of finalizing the agreement.

"It's imperative that we start construction on the underground electric hookup to the well and the waterline from the well to the Dogtown line," he said. "But the city will hold off until the permit is final because it will cost us $300,000."

At last Thursday's study session, city council echoed Dalbeck's sentiments.

Ken Edes, mayor, suggested inviting the Havasupai Tribal Council members to Williams, assuring them the city fosters conservative growth and intends to be a good neighbor. He also suggested traveling to the bottom of the canyon to visit their home.

"We need to establish a personal relationship with the tribal council," Edes said. "If we treat them with honor and respect, it will benefit future negotiations."

Don Dent, councilmember, said he had no problem establishing these relations but said he wants a memorandum of agreement signed soon and sent to the Forest Service.

Dent is right. It's time to bring closure on this issue of vital importance to our town.

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