State fears loss of surface-water rights

By Dick Kamp, Wick News Service
Published: Thursday, June 5, 2008 6:08 PM MDT

Gov. Janet Napolitano and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality say they're losing the ability to regulate surface water in the state.

At a May 19 ADEQ hearing in Tucson on declaring Davidson Canyon as “Outstanding Arizona Water” — a designation that strengthens water quality protection — a controversial Supreme Court Decision raised questions of a larger significance to Arizona and other Western states.

The hearing also provided an opportunity for those in attendance to comment on he state's proposed revisions to water quality regulation, which was of little concern to most were present to overwhelmingly support protecting the canyon by giving it a higher surface water quality standard than other surface water bodies.

Attorney Melinda Kassen of the Denver office of nonprofit environmental group Trout Unlimited pointed to successful local efforts in Boulder among local water regulatory agencies and within county planning and zoning departments to fill in the gap left by Rapanos, while conceding that “nobody knows what will happen as a result of it.”