Water. There is a long and colorful history in Arizona and the southwest over water-rights disputes and who owns what body of water. As a plumber, I hear about this now and then.
One of our classic monsoons can leave Anthem streets flooded and water retention basins so full that the neighbor kids wish they had a canoe instead of a bicycle. We can be fooled by flash flood water which is still dangerous once the rain stops: just two feet of slow-moving water will carry away most cars and trucks.
When the rains strike, water running from your property can drain off to your neighbor’s property and cause damage. They might even come over and tell you it’s your fault and demand you compensate them for it.
So, whose fault is it?
Most new commercial buildings in the Phoenix Metro Valley have a retention basin in the event of a monsoon storm. Parks are being built as natural retention basins, too. But, let's get back to you and your neighbor.
Once the rainfall lands on your property, if it moves somewhere else as dictated by the natural slope of the land, it’s not your responsibility. However, if you’ve landscaped your property, and after the fact, the water now runs into your neighbor’s lot as a result of your landscaping, you may be responsible. However, if you landscaped but didn’t change the natural flow of the water, you’re in the clear.
Let’s change the story a little bit. Say, instead of a monsoon flood, your irrigation line broke, and the water flowed off of your property and damaged your neighbor’s. In that case, you definitely would be responsible.
If you’re in an area that is still in a flood irrigation program, take care to use your share and not let it run over and flood. Many people are surprised that an area with water problems still uses flood irrigation. However, experts tell us that for trees and plant material in general, flood irrigation will produce healthier plant material at a lower cost.
State Water Facts
The Arizona Department of Water Resources has a very informative site where you can peruse various facets of water in Arizona. This includes flood alerts, rainfall statistics for specific areas of the Valley, the evapotranspiration rate, and other facts. That can be found here.
Last year saw a 3% rate hike for Phoenix water users, and another 2% hike went into effect more recently. Nonetheless, Valley residents only pay about $30 a month for water, which is one of the lowest rates in the county. Those who own a swimming pool or heavy use landscaping will pay much more.
Fee information, including information on fees for sewer rates, can be found here. Some restructuring of the fees was done, so it’s worthwhile to look these figures over.