The answer to the Rim country's water problem is so disarmingly simple, it's amazing we didn't think of it years ago.
Instead we have become bogged down in tedious debates over safe yield values, per capita consumption, equivalent populations, and fractured granite.
We have made "foregoing assumptions," created "strategic plans," and demanded "verifiable water supplies."
We have generated acronyms ("gpc/d rate," "ERUs") on top of abbreviations ("ac-ft/yr) and buried them under Forest Service Manual stipulations ("FSM 2526.03(2) requires that preferential consideration be given to riparian dependent resources...). Name three "riparian dependent resources" and win an all-expenses-paid, one-way trip to Salt River Project headquarters in the beautiful Valley of the Golf Courses and Irrigated Lawns.
We have produced a dizzying procession of charts, tables, diagrams, graphs and maps.
We have broken the problem into "key result areas," debated the merits of tank flapper valves, agonized over the "marginality" of winter recharge, and yearned for "deep percolation."
We have turned places like Mayfield Canyon and Diamond Point Shadows into household words. Has anybody checked to see if there really is a Mayfield Canyon?
Yes, friends and neighbors, we have beat the water issue to a bloody stub. And to what end?
Entire communities are now pitted against one another, squaring off contentiously like stone-age savages.
Salt River Project is telling us that in the beginning God created the Tonto National Forest for the exclusive use of seven ranchers in the Valley.
Environmentalists are poking under every bush and rock looking for some long-lost species of dung beetle whose extinction will bring civilization as we know it to a screeching halt.
Far from not paying enough attention to the water issue, we have paid too much attention to it to the point that we are all dazed and confused. One area resident told me the other day she doesn't know who to believe or what to think anymore.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
The tiny town of Sirt in southern Turkey has proven it.
According to a recent Associated Press story, the people of Sirt had a water problem even more critical than ours. The town's "27-year-old water system breaks down frequently, leaving them without water for months," the article says.
The bottom line is that the town's women are "forced to line up in front of a trickling fountain for water that they carry home in large containers a walk that for some can be miles."
Finally the good ladies of Sirt took matters into their own hands. If you're a guy, you are no doubt muttering to yourself, "No, they didn't. NOT THAT!!!!!."
But yes, mighty men of the Rim country. That is exactly what they did.
Inspired by a popular Turkish movie in which women in a village utilize a most effective way to protest working in the fields "while their husbands sip tea or play backgammon at the village coffee shop," the women of Sirt are refusing to have sex with the men of Sirt until said men fix the village's water system.
"One of the women launched the idea as a joke, but it is serious," Faliha Sari, one of their leaders, said. So serious that the men of Sirt have responded exactly as the women hoped they might.
"In recent days," AP reports, "the men have asked the municipality to fix the water system or give them the parts."
Now I am not suggesting that the same tactic might solve the Rim country's water problem. I may, like most men, be stupid but I'm not a fool.
What, you might ask, is the difference between stupidity and foolishness? The answer is sex.
Besides I believe in positive reinforcement. As today's child-rearing experts tell us, rewards are more effective than punishment.
And if you're going to charge people more for using more water, shouldn't they also receive more for finding more water.
So instead of withholding sex, I recommend the women of the Rim country tell their mates that untold bounties await them when water is no longer a concern in the area.
I'm willing to bet we'd see wells dug by hand.
I'd even wager the Diamond Star Citizens' Action Coalition might hold community rain dances instead of gripe sessions.
And over at the town water department, resident conservation guy Jeff Durbin would probably find a whole new level of interest in water-saving devices, techniques and positions.
Like the men of Sirt, all we need are the parts.