Water in Sedona.
Linda and I recently visited one of our favorite getaways for a few nights, Tusayan and The Grand Canyon. Staring down into The Abyss and seeing the Colorado snake its way through The Canyon reminded me of a perennial question that realtors get from prospective buyers of Sedona property – “Is there enough water to go around?”
Legal ownership of water in our state is divided into two types of water rights, surface water and ground water. When we talk surface water, think of the Colorado River and Oak Creek and their connected irrigation ditches and canals; when we mention ground water, think of wells and pumps tapping into underground aquifers and subterranean streams. All of this water is what supplies our growing population and irrigates the crops that we grow and it is a finite resource to be zealously protected. In fact, the body of law which governs these rights was heavily influenced by a former AZ governor and Sedona and Flagstaff homeowner, Bruce Babbitt.
Down in The Valley, their biggest source of water is The Colorado River. The Central Arizona Project Canal was dug in the middle of the last century with money from the federal government to funnel water from the Colorado River basin, south of Lake Havasu, to Phoenix and on down to Tucson, and without it we would not be able to support the growth that our state has undergone. Phoenix, Tucson and certain other communities such as Payson and Prescott, have been designated by The State of Arizona as Active Management Areas (AMAs) where water supplies are deemed to be at risk and where its allocation is determined by The Az Dept. of Water Resources.
Up here in Sedona, we are fortunate enough to fall outside of an AMA. We get our water from wells and anyone who wishes to be “off the grid”, in terms of water supply, can go get a well-drilling permit and start digging! The cost however is not cheap; water in some parts of town can be nearly a thousand feet down and at $40 -$50 a foot to drill a well, that’s big bucks. The good news is that in the 35 years I’ve been here, I’ve never heard that the aquifer is drying up and therefore there is enough water to go around.
There is one caveat. All water, whether surface or ground, is recharged by precipitation in the form of snow and rain. Our wells feed into an aquifer which is replenished by rain and snow-melt on the Mogollon Rim and our supply has been steady even in times of drought such as now. The Colorado is fed by snow-melt in The Rockies and the Green River basin watershed but that water supply has been shrinking for the last several decades – just go check out the water level behind Glenn Canyon or Hoover Dam and you’ll see what I mean. When the situation becomes critical, water will be rationed to the states that draw from the Colorado, ie Arizona, Nevada, California and Mexico. That will be a problem for our neighbors in Phoenix and Tucson.
This week’s Real Estate Review was written by Andrew Brearley…..