Ada will need to buy more land with groundwater rights; lease water rights from other landowners, or buy land and construct a reservoir to collect surface water. Faced with the very real possibility of insufficient funds for these options, the city could well be left with the unsavory alternative of condemning the property of private landowners through eminent domain for its groundwater rights. Obviously, eminent domain is not something the city’s leadership would want to discuss in a public venue, but this possibility remains as real as Ada’s funding limitations.
How big our water rate increase will be is driven by two facts: First, under the MAY regulations it will take 10 times as much acreage to support the same amount of well water we are currently allowed to pump and, secondly, the limited groundwater rights that are available have now become a very valuable commodity.
Our city fathers support the MAY, as presently written, hoping for a 20-year grace period within which to comply with its regulatory restrictions. State law has no provision for a grace period and once the MAY is finalized by the state, any pumping above the limit could be unlawful. We will be lucky to get a five-year period to come into compliance. Can we be ready and will we ultimately be able to pay our water bills?
George and Markia Matthews