BISBEE, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Cochise County Board of Supervisors has voted to enter an agreement with the City of Bisbee for first right of refusal on the use of effluent for potential water recharge projects.
The option agreement, unanimously approved by the Board at a special meeting on June 18, allows the County to continue exploring water conservation projects as part of its ongoing efforts to preserve the San Pedro River.
The City of Bisbee currently has no use for the 200 acre-feet of effluent, but it has the potential to make a measurable impact on recharging the local aquifer, said County Administrator Ed Gilligan.
The total cost of the five-year agreement will be $35,000, paid by the County to the City of Bisbee. The Nature Conservancy has agreed to contribute $10,000, reducing the County’s commitment to $25,000.
“It’s a small amount of money in the grand scheme of recharge projects and the potential for return on investment is significant,” Gilligan said.
Thanks to a partnership with The Nature Conservancy, City of Sierra Vista, and the City of Bisbee – known as the Cochise Conservation and Recharge Network – the County has already built two award-winning, water recharge projects in Palominas and on the nearby San Jose Ranch, Bisbee.
The County will continue to work with its partners to find third party funding for another recharge project that can potentially utilize the 200 acre-feet of effluent, but is not obligated to build anything, Gilligan added. If the County exercises its option to do a project, it will pay a flat fee to the City of Bisbee, and an additional annual payment for the use of the water.
“I think this agreement shows we are trying to explore every avenue to do our part to save the river,” said Supervisor Ann English.
The agreement will now go to the City of Bisbee for Council approval.