Legislature Working On Bill To Help Notify Those Buying Homes About Available Water

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PHOENIX -- A bill that would help those buying homes in rural areas obtain information about available water will become increasingly important as water becomes scarcer in Arizona, the chairman of the House Environment Committee said Tuesday.

"Not now important but, five years from now, very important," said Rep. Ray Barnes, R-Phoenix.

The House gave preliminary approval Tuesday to HB 2141, sponsored by Rep. Ed Ableser, D-Tempe, which would require developers in most parts of rural Arizona to file statements of water adequacy with county recorders. These areas are outside of active management areas (AMAs), where new developments are required to have 100-year assured water supplies.

Under current law, sellers must inform only the first buyer of a home that its water supply has been deemed inadequate.

Ableser said his goal is discouraging developers from building in areas that don't have sufficient long-term water supplies.

"What you're doing is allowing the market forces to now dictate home sales with regard to water," Ableser said.

The House Committee of the Whole endorsed Ableser's bill, which sent it to a vote by the full House scheduled for Wednesday.

That approval came a day after the full House endorsed a related bill that would require the Arizona Department of Real Estate's Web site to provide maps of land outside AMAs and advise buyers to check on water adequacy.

HB 2270, sponsored by Rep. Doug Clark, R-Anthem, also would require that department's Web site to link to state Department of Water Resources' definitions of water adequacy terms.

Under Clark's bill, anyone may request water supply information about a property served by a municipal or private water company outside an AMA and the utility must provide the information within three business days.

"We need to give all the tools to the buyers when they purchase a home," Clark said. "It's a gigantic investment, and they need to know everything they can about that investment."

Clark, a real estate agent, said his bill puts the responsibility in the hands of the buyer, whereas Ableser's bill puts requirements on the owner or agent selling a home.

"They work good together, and that's the whole point in running these bills together," Ableser said.

Both Clark and Ableser said they expect their bills to succeed in the Senate.

"Water is probably Arizona's most precious resource, and if we are continually exploiting it and dwindling it away we're going to be hit with a brick wall that we saw coming but didn't do anything to fix," Ableser said.

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