• Mark L. Johnson

Water Woes VII-Water Poker



Thanks to the many Tortolita Alliance (TA) members who wrote letters and attended last night's Marana Planning Commission meeting regarding the Camino De Oeste project and Marana's Designated Assured Water Supply (DAWS). Although the re-zoning was approved, our voices were heard loud and clear and a significant revelation was "flushed out" as described below.



Non-Transparency


On March 9, 2021, TA made a DAWS Public Records Request (PRR) for information about Marana's approved lot count and Marana Water's DAWS exceedance.


On April 17, 2021 TA received a DAWS PRR Response from the Deputy Town Clerk indicating that Marana could not respond to the PRR but would like to meet with TA. TA tried several times to set up this meeting but got the run-around each time and the meeting never happened.


Finally last night, after presenting the DAWS situation in writing and via public comment for a specific project(s), we got a response and it is startling.


The Revelation


Last night, in response to TA's comments, Marana revealed that Planning Commission (Stage 1) approval is meaningless in terms of water supply. Water supply for a proposed development is only guaranteed during the platting process (Stage 2). At the plat stage, if there is DAWS available, then the plat will be approved from a water supply standpoint! This means that currently there are 16,022 lots that will not be approved because DAWS will be exceeded. See chart below.



Water Poker Game


Water supply for development in Marana is a big poker game. First, to buy into the game, the developer must invest in a land development plan and get it approved by the Planning Commission. Once in the game, if a developer draws the right wild cards (DAWS availability) they will get approval to build the project. If they do not draw the DAWS wild cards and loose all their chips, they are out of the game and the project will not be built.


Rest assured, the current leadership in Marana and the developers will try to change the game and put more DAWS wild cards in the deck by initiating a process to increase DAWS.


Next Steps


TA and other concerned groups need to be proactive regarding water supply in Marana, monitor the DAWS situation and take the following actions:


  1. Request Marana to make public a continuously updated chronological list (by approval date) of all the approved development projects and when they become platted with associated water use.

  2. Request Marana to make public a continuously running updated DAWS balance based on the information in Item #1.

  3. Request Marana to either; (1) change the process and require the development to satisfy DAWS at the Stage 1 (Planning Commission) or (2) include a statement in the Planning Commission approval that DAWS is currently exceeded based on the information in Items #1 & 2.

  4. Any proposal to change DAWS must be a transparent, public exercise and include:

  • Updated groundwater modeling that eliminates the 1,000' drawdown parameter

  • Only allow bonafide, long-term (100-years or more) renewable water supplies as is now required in Pinal County, e.g. CAP water & reclaimed wastewater

  • Balance water supply with realistic water demand projections

In addition, we must contact state legislators to impress upon them the problem with these anomalies and get the Groundwater Management Act and other existing legislation amended to include Items 1-4.


Rest assured, TA will be taking the lead on these important items.