State drowns SRP legal claims vs. Prescott, Prescott Valley

PRESCOTT - Late Friday, the Arizona Department of Water Resources affirmed Prescott and Prescott Valley's right to proceed with its Big Chino Water Ranch project, again rejecting claims backed by Salt River Project (SRP) that the project does not meet the assured water supply standards.

Community leaders say the project is necessary for existing and future water needs and will not harm the Verde River.

Despite being located more than 20 miles from the Verde River, SRP opposes the project. This has puzzled many since there are hundreds if not thousands of wells located closer to the Verde. If successful, SRP's position would essentially shut down many rural wells in Yavapai County and around the state.

Prescott and Prescott Valley's rights are rooted in 1991 state legislation that, ironically, SRP supported. These rights were perfected when Prescott entered into the Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe's 1994 water rights settlement, which SRP also supported. Now that the deal is done, SRP is trying to renege.

"The Arizona Department of Water Resources' decision again affirms that Prescott is acting in strict accordance with Arizona law," well-known water attorney Michael Pearce said.

Pearce, along with his partner Rita Maguire, has represented Prescott and Prescott Valley during the dispute.

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