Is Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District (PSWID) a “domestic” water district with the power to purchase and run a water system? In my opinion, the answer to this question is “no” for the following reasons:
1. People involved in obtaining signatures on the PSWID formation petition have told me that PSWID was formed to look for solutions to Pine/Strawberry water problems and not for the purpose of purchasing Pine Water Co. and Strawberry Water Co. (water companies). People signed the petition believing that PSWID was not being formed for the purpose of purchasing the water companies.
2. I attended the Gila County Board of Supervisors’ meeting when PSWID was formed. I heard Ron Christensen, Gila County District 1 Supervisor at the time, assure people that PSWID was not being formed for the purpose of purchasing the water companies.
3. Domestic water districts are formed with the purpose of becoming a water supplier. The other water districts in Pine/Strawberry which are water suppliers all have “domestic” incorporated in their names. The word “domestic” is not part of PSWID’s name and was not included in any of the formation documents.
4. A memo dated July 12, 2004 from the Gila County Board of Supervisors to a citizens group states in part, “The PSWID is currently a Water Improvement District as defined in the Arizona Revised Statutes. However, it is subject to becoming a “domestic” water improvement district if property owner’s approval and Board of Supervisors’ approval is obtained as required under A.R.S. 48.1018.” Pine/Strawberry residents have not been asked to approve a conversion to a domestic district, and as far as I know, Gila County Board of Supervisors has not approved a conversion.
5. PSWID has existed in Pine/Strawberry for about 12 years with the residents of the area acting under the belief that PSWID did not have the authority to purchase the water companies and run a water system. In fact, one of the running conversations in the area has revolved around what should be done with the water if it is discovered.
Clearly, PSWID was not formed and has not acted as a domestic water improvement district with the power to purchase and run a water system, nor has it been converted to “domestic” in accordance with Arizona Revised Statutes.
If, PSWID is a domestic water district, as the current PSWID board asserts, then a great many people have been duped for the 12 years PSWID has existed.
Bernice E. Winandy