ELFRIDA — In an effort to be responsible and ensure the health of the community the board of the Southeastern Arizona Water District has canceled Friday’s public meeting and rescheduled it for Saturday, Feb. 5, at 10 a.m.

The Southeastern Arizona Water District boundaries go from Interstate 10 in Willcox south to Elfrida covering about 400 square miles. The water project would include up to 300 miles of pipeline and would service as many as 2,500 residences and 4,000 vacant parcels. Two to four new 1,000-foot-deep wells would be drilled to provide water to subscribers in the district.

“The project will be financed through a combination of grants, principal forgiveness and low interest loans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, if the system is determined to be feasible and the money is available. Such loans are normally made over a 30-year period at a stipulated rate of interest. The homeowners’ monthly base fee will go toward paying back the loan, while the usage fee would go toward operational costs,” according to the SEAWD website.

This would alleviate the cost of drilling a deeper well or a new well should a well go dry.

It would also prop up property values, which have declined in recent decades as “prospective buyers are wary of purchasing homes in an area that may or may not have water in the future, or it may be too costly to access,” according to SEAWD’s website. “The slow economic decline of recent decades accelerates as young talent leaves the valley in search of economic prosperity elsewhere. The negative spiral continues.”

The water district would provide water access for residential and small farm users, but would not stop the industrial agricultural use of groundwater. Those deep wells drilled for large agricultural users are blamed for the declining water level in the Willcox and Douglas basins would not be affected.

Organizers say a water district will resolve those residential concerns by providing sustainable, domestic water from community wells 1,000 feet deep. This will be a significantly lower cost than that of owning and maintaining a well.

Homeowners who opt into the district will pay a yearly assessment, estimated at $300, for the length of a 30-year USDA loan and a monthly water usage fee of $70 to $80 depending on water use. This is significantly lower than the costs of owning and maintaining a well, according to SEAWD.

These are just estimates and the full cost of the new wells and water main lines and connections have yet to be determined.

SEAWD says the plan would maintain independence as a region by proactively putting a solution in place to residential water concerns and avoid the need for the state to step in and regulate water.

For information and updates, please see the website seazwd.org or Facebook.