Date: Sun, 5 Dec 1999 03:12:05 -0700 (MST)
From: "Chris Milda (_Akimel O`odham_)" 

Arizona kills water deal
U.S. compromise sought end to San Carlos flap
By Shaun McKinnon The Arizona Republic Dec. 3, 1999
Arizona water officials once again rejected a compromise Thursday in a dispute with 
the federal government over a San Carlos Apache water settlement.

After hearing details of the compromise from an Interior Department attorney, the 
Central Arizona Water Conservation District passed on the deal.

The conservation district's 15-member elected board said the offer would cost Arizona 
taxpayers millions of dollars.

The action means that disputes between the state and federal governments over who will 
pay for the Central Arizona Project Canal and how Indian water claims will be settled 
will persist for some time.

Federal negotiators have reached an agreement with the San Carlos Apaches and several 
other parties. But because the pact involves water from the CAP Canal, the 
conservation district board also must approve the deal.

Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, a former Arizona governor who first announced the 
San Carlos settlement in March, wants a final agreement soon.

But Arizona water managers say the federal government is trying to stick Arizona with 
the $77 million cost of the CAP water that would be used in the settlement.

State officials want the value of that water deducted from what Arizona owes the 
federal government for building the CAP, the 336-mile canal that carries water from 
the Colorado River to Phoenix and Tucson.

"This is the core principle we've drawn the line in the sand over," said board member 
Grady Gammage, a Phoenix attorney who has participated in most of the recent water 
negotiations. "When water moves, the cost moves. I can't get past that."

The Interior Department insists Arizona has misinterpreted the CAP contract.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Stemplewicz, who represents Interior on CAP and Indian 
settlements, said the federal government isn't trying to saddle Arizona taxpayers with 
any extra costs. But he said the CAP board's position is inconsistent with the law and 
with all of the CAP contracts.

He said that without the compromise offered Thursday, the only way to settle the 
dispute may be in court, where he believes the federal government will prevail.

At the heart of the dispute is not the San Carlos settlement itself, which is purely a 
federal issue, but a long-simmering disagreement over how much of the canal's $4.7 
billion price tag Arizona owes the federal government.

The state sued the Bureau of Reclamation over the issue, arguing that Arizona 
taxpayers in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal counties, who are assessed a CAP-related 
property tax, should not be responsible for cost overruns caused by the federal 

Arizona also insists that if the federal government takes a larger share of the 1.5 
million acre-feet of water the canal delivers each year, it should deduct the value of 
that water from Arizona's final bill.


Shaun McKinnon can be reached at (602) 444-7116 or at [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Reprinted under the Fair Use doctrine 
of international copyright law.
           Tsonkwadiyonrat (We are ONE Spirit)

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