The water situation in Pine is, in the words of the staff of the Arizona Corporation Commission, “dire.”
Stage 5 restrictions last summer were bad enough, but the added element of bone-dry spigots for many threatens the very quality of life that people move here for. It got so bad that the commission stepped in.
The commission staff’s laundry list of recommendations was presented to the commissioners Monday. It included proposals to link Pine and Strawberry conservation stages and to virtually eliminate new hookups in Pine.
Instead, the commission threw up its hands in frustration and reinstated the 25-hookup-per-month allowance that was in effect until Stage 5 restrictions shut down all new hookups last summer.
“It’s a very frustrating position for the commission to be in,” ACC spokesperson Heather Murphy said. “Here we have a utility with an obligation to serve their customers, while property owners are saying ‘I have a right. I bought this property with the expectation that I can (get a meter).’”
All Brooke Utilities could offer was a promise to truck water to Pine during difficult times and that doing so would cost residents a bundle.
The commission chided both county officials and real estate developers for continuing to permit and build new homes when there is already not enough water to go around.
The commission also told Brooke to develop some long-term plans and an education program that might finally get the message to locals that water is a scarce commodity in Pine.
But most important, the commission asked all those who have a stake in Pine to start working together toward a common goal of a long-term water supply. The bottom line, the commission said, is that those involved have to realize how big a mess they’re in and do something about it.
We agree, but we also see this as an opportunity to develop a regional solution. While it’s important that the county clamps down on new development in Pine, concerned entities throughout the Rim country need to sit down at one table to develop a long-term plan for the entire area.
When words like “dire” are used to describe our neighbors’ water situation, it’s time to take action.