Just when you think the Valley can't possibly get any more obtuse about the realities of the state's dwindling water resources, along comes Valerie Manning, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.
In a "My Turn" column in the Monday edition of The Arizona Republic, Manning advises Valley residents not to worry about water.
"Urban Phoenix businesses and residents don't have any reason to panic about water," Manning writes. And she even claims that "water conservation initiatives developed and implemented here in the Valley are being used throughout the West."
Then she turns on rural Arizona for bringing our water woes upon ourselves.
"Years ago," she writes, "rural leaders rejected any notion that regulation of water use was necessary in their communities. Now, for them, the drought is making a bad situation worse."
It didn't take long for Payson officials to react to Manning's column, and, as you might expect, they were outraged.
Public Works Director Buzz Walker called her denial of the need for water conservation in the Valley "absolutely incredible" and promised to respond. "That's the most irresponsible (gosh darn) thing I've ever read in my life."
Town Manager Fred Carpenter didn't mince words either:
"She has no business making those kinds of statements that we don't do anything," he said. "She acts like everybody out here is a bunch of country bumpkins."
The irony, of course, and the source of Walker's and Carpenter's sense of outrage is that just the opposite is true. While the Valley waters its hundreds upon hundreds of golf courses with water stolen from our watershed; while Valley residents allow water from unattended garden hoses to spill onto sidewalks and streets; while Valley officials do little or nothing to encourage, much less impose water conservation measures on their subjects, many rural communities like Payson, Flagstaff and Winslow have banned a host of water uses taken for granted in the Valley.
We understand the role of chambers of commerce -- protecting the interests of the businesses who pay their bills. But what Manning is doing is worse than ignoring the truth. She is either writing from ignorance or she is outright lying, and either one is inexcusable.
One telling example is her reference to a "nine-year drought." The reality, as we suspect Manning knows, is that this is the ninth year of a drought of indeterminate length.
Calling it a nine-year drought does not make it one. It just underscores the dishonest premise of her column.