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Committee OKs bill boosting disclosure of rural homes’ water supplies

Prospective home buyers deserve know the adequacy of a property’s water supply before making a purchase in rural Arizona, the head of an environmental group said Thursday.

Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter, registered her support Thursday for a bill that would require a state-issued report on a property’s water supply to be filed with county recorders’ offices.

At present, that report has to be provided only to the first buyer of the property. In some cases, home buyers who didn’t know to check on a property’s supply have had to truck in water, she said.

“People ought to know about water issues relative to the homes they buy, the property they buy, and it shouldn’t just be the first person who buys it,” Bahr told the House Committee on Agriculture and Water.

The committee voted unanimously to endorse HB 2025, sponsored by Rep. Eddie Ableser, D-Tempe.

While developments in Active Management Areas, chiefly in the Valley and to the south through Tucson, are required to have 100-year assured water supplies, there is no such requirement in most of rural Arizona. However, the Arizona Department of Water Resources issues a report assessing whether new rural developments have adequate water supplies.

Sellers of developments with six or more parcels are required to notify the first buyers if the water supply has been deemed inadequate. There is no such requirement for subsequent sales.

Representatives of the Arizona Association of Realtors, Arizona Association of Community Managers and Home Builders Association of Central Arizona told lawmakers they support the bill’s goal but have questions about who should be responsible. The original bill called for the subdividing entity to file the reports, but the committee approved an amendment by Rep. Russ Jones, R-Yuma, the committee’s chairman, that would make property associations responsible for filing the reports and sharing them with subsequent buyers of properties.

Tom Farley, chief executive officer of the Realtors group, said it would duplicate efforts for a property association to have to provide the report because it will already be recorded with the property’s title.

“Regardless of who records it, the prospective home buyer is going to get a copy of it,” he said in an interview. “You don’t need to give it to them twice.”

Jones said he’s confident that stakeholders and the sponsor will develop a solution.

“I think everybody’s working hard together to get a good bill out, and when that happens you generally see good things,” he said.

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