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Sun, Sept. 20

Stilo still silent on water source
Arizona Corporation Commission application to provide water for proposed development in Tusayan not big on details

TUSAYAN, Ariz. - While many in the Tusayan and Grand Canyon community question various aspects of Stilo Group's proposed development in Tusayan, water ranks at the top of the list. The developer has yet to disclose where the water would come from leaving many stakeholders concerned.

Tusayan Ventures, L.L.C. filed its application with the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) for a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CC&N) Dec. 28.

Stilo representative Andy Jacobs said Stilo's properties are outside of the boundaries of the Tusayan Water Development Association (TWDA).

"So, we've come in and said that we'd be interested in delivering water to our own properties Kotzin and Ten X and that's why we went to the ACC and filed for an application to establish our own rates, which is important because that's never been done in Tusayan before by the TWDA."

After reviewing the CC&N application, the ACC issued a letter of insufficiency Jan. 26 outlining a long list of required information not yet provided including trivial information like the applicant's phone number on up to the source of water to be provided, proposed storage facilities and distribution infrastructure.

Garry Hays, an attorney representing Tusayan Ventures said a letter of insufficiency is not uncommon at the outset of CC&N proceedings.

"It's a pretty common practice with about 90 percent of the cases we see," he said. "It's such an arduous task of getting everything together. It's not anything other than saying, 'hey, here is some more information we need from you a request for more information.'"

Tusayan resident and longstanding opponent of the development Clarinda Vail said she questions whether the development is economically and environmentally sound. She said Stilo has not been forthcoming with project details like the source of water.

"The application was so fundamentally incomplete as evidenced by the letter from the ACC that it can't even be accepted yet for the ACC's consideration," she said.

The Havasupai Tribal Council has actively opposed the development fearing it will encroach on their water supply.

The Havasupai Tribe has approximately 680 members, most of whom reside in the Village of Supai, located within Havasu Canyon. The village is isolated, accessible only by helicopter, foot or pack animal.

The reservation contains 6.4 miles of creek that runs year round. The tribe manages their own water and sewer systems, supplied by three shallow wells that each produce approximately 200 gallons per minute water.

Currently the tribe's total consumption of water is about 3,450 acre-feet per year, which tribal representatives say will be affected if development in the neighboring town of Tusayan goes ahead.

Don E. Watahomigie, chairman of the Havasupai Tribal Council, said the tribe adamantly objects to Stilo's development proposal.

"We will fight this, and anything to do with water that will deplete the springs in our area," he said. "(Stilo has) not said one word where the water will come from. On many levels this would be traumatic for the tribe. The springs will go dry, the big horn sheep, and the elk won't have water."

Hays said there are several water source options available although Stilo is not yet ready to disclose those options.

"I think what we settle upon will have the least impact on as many affected stakeholders as possible," Hays said.

Grand Canyon Park Superintendent David Uberuaga has expressed concern regarding the development repeatedly over the last several months.

In November, Uberuaga addressed the Tusayan Town Council members urging them to slow the development process down. In a letter to ACC Chairman Gary Pierce dated Feb. 1, Uberuaga said likely expansion of existing wastewater treatment and re-use/disposal facilities or possible new facilities are of concern with added risk of polluting area water supplies.

Uberuaga recently suggested in a New York Times story earlier this month that the development will create a strain on Grand Canyon's resources while those involved look to gain financially.

Tusayan Mayor Greg Bryan said he thinks the Park Service is premature in calling the proposed development their "worst nightmare" and that the motivation behind the project is "all about greed."

"I think the park is being premature and hasty in their judgment of potential impacts and I think the council was very deliberate in trying to provide benchmarks and requirements and testings and studies to be done to mitigate or reduce potential impacts on a lot of things."

According to Hays, Stilo isn't looking to profit through their efforts to provide water.

"They are trying to do things that are going to provide housing, and in order to provide housing you have to provide water," he said. "They are going to try and run it efficiently and economically as possible."

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