Water Struggle Requires Consensus Building Solutions



A decade ago, a sage observed sadly that what we need most is a "kinder, gentler America."

I'm just a dumb old farmer, but is seems that Rim Country is now in a delicate financial cycle. Financial and political fights and disruptions that might be weathered easily in normal times appear to pose economic threats which have the potential to harm schools, hospitals, health care professionals and main stream businesses.

Dismissing such potential business slowdowns as "inconsequential" seems a bit high minded even for those of us, like Mr. Edwards, who live in the high rent end of town.

The current fight, and some candidates' promises to turn Town Hall upside down, does not bode well for those who still have to work for a living. Mr. Edwards and Mr. Blair's hyperbole seems more focused on fighting than on fixing our "moral" water issue.

In 50 plus years I've learned a couple lessons about water. Use of groundwater in Arizona is a property right by statute, rule and practice. Those who have been in Arizona's water wars know that there are ways to protect one's property rights (well water) and ways to lose them.

I offered to take Star Valley leaders to meet the State Director of Water Resources so they could affirm that there was a legal way to protect their interests. I offered, not because I'm smarter than their lawyers or experts, but because I had experience in both losing, and subsequently winning battles with government agencies for control of 65,000 acre feet of water entitlement.

The battle I lost -- and the negotiation I eventually won -- were for control of roughly 10 to 20 times more water than Blue Ridge and Payson combined. I advised Bob Edwards on the afternoon of July 7, 2005 that I had made the free, unsolicited offer to help the Star Valley group. Neither he nor the group ever decided to explore that offer.

Water is a very complex issue requiring accommodative, consensus-building solutions. Over the decades, I've been in some tough struggles -- losing some and winning some.

Only two things seem constant -- there's always a lawyer and a water "expert" who will assure you your side is going to win (for a small fee) and there are always those who would rather fight about a water problem than to actually fix it.

Win or lose, I hope Edwards will move in the direction of fixing, not fighting.

Kenny Evans, Payson

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