The new Tusayan General Plan does not plan for success. It plans for failure.

April 13, 2014

By Alicyn Gitlin
Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter

If the Town would simply begin by defining its available water supply, and then constrain growth so as to not deplete its supply, it will be able to meet its citizens’ needs and prevent harm to important neighbors like Grand Canyon National Park and the Havasupai Tribe.

Rather than starting with the resources at hand, and creating a vision for how big the town should be, the new Plan remains vague on how much growth is to come. The Town will then aim to develop resources to meet its indeterminate growth. Rather than planning, the Town will play a game of catch up, trying to keep up with development.

The Tusayan General Plan has improved over its many draft versions, but it is still heavy on describing history and fairly shallow on creating a vision for the community that’s considerate of its setting and impact on a very special place. The town acknowledges its relationship with a neighboring national treasure, Grand Canyon National Park. Yet the Town ignored the request of National Park Service to add the phrase “does not cause derogation of any water rights of the United States” to the goal statements in the Water subsection. The Town should consider not only the water rights of Grand Canyon National Park, but also of the Havasupai Tribe, in its water goals. If the Town doesn’t plan to account for those needs, the Town is planning for failure. Without planning for everyone’s water needs, the Town will not be able to provide for its people into the future. Excessive water development in the Town risks irrevocable harm to Grand Canyon National Park. It is no secret that the groundwater below Tusayan feeds Grand Canyon’s springs.

Rather than the goal “To develop a water supply, distribution system, and storage capacity that meets the needs of the Town”, how about echoing the policies in the 1995/1997 Tusayan Area Plan?
“1. Adequacy of water supply shall be considered in the review of all major developments…
2. Water conservation measures shall be included in all major development proposals…”

or reiterating from the 1995/1997 Area Plan’s goals:
“develop permanent water supply alternatives in a manner that is sensitive to the area’s resources”

If Tusayan plans to live within its means, it will plan for success. Right now, the Town is planning to fail its citizens and risk irrevocable harm to Grand Canyon. Why plan if you’re not planning for success?