Future looking statements from PICO HOLDING's annual 10-k filing considering its subsidary VIDLER WATER COMPANY, INC.
We believe that continuing trends in Nevada and Arizona indicate strong future demand for Vidler's water rights and water storage assets.
Based on census figures, in the three years ended July 1, 2003, the population of Clark County, Nevada, which includes metropolitan Las Vegas, increased 14.6% to almost 1.6 million residents. Around 70,000 people are moving to the area annually. Currently Las Vegas takes most of its water supply from Lake Mead. Due to the continued growth in demand for water and 5 years of drought, the level of Lake Mead has reached 50 year lows. Accordingly, Las Vegas is aggressively seeking to conserve water (e.g., rules have been introduced restricting water use in new homes) and to diversify its sources of water supply. At the same time, the increasing cost of housing in Las Vegas is leading to more rapid growth in outlying areas within commuting distance.
Over time, we believe that these factors will lead to demand for water in parts of southern Nevada where Vidler owns or has an interest in water rights, including southern Lincoln County/northern Clark County and Sandy Valley and Muddy River in Clark County. If growth management initiatives are introduced in Las Vegas, this will lead to even more rapid growth in the areas surrounding metropolitan Las Vegas.
In Arizona, the continued growth of the municipalities surrounding Phoenix in Maricopa County is likely to lead to strong demand for Vidler's water rights in the Harquahala Valley. According to census estimates, the population of Maricopa County increased 9.5% in the three years to July 1, 2003, to almost 3.4 million residents. Many of the municipalities surrounding Phoenix/Scottsdale where the growth is concentrated, do not receive allotments of water from the Colorado River, and are therefore forced to find alternative supplies of water.
Due to the low level of Lake Mead, the states of Arizona, California, and Nevada may be required to take no more than their current allotments of water from the Colorado River. This is likely to increase demand for the net recharge credits owned by Vidler, representing water which Vidler has in storage in its Arizona Recharge Facility. We also anticipate demand from developers and other entities to store water for various purposes, including back-up water supply for dry years by developers, and assured water supply for new development projects.
The Central Arizona Water Conservation District ("CAWCD") is a three-county water district servicing the most populous parts of the state, including Maricopa County. A 2003 CAWCD study predicted that CAWCD will be able to use 9 million acre-feet of water from Arizona's Colorado River supplies in the years from 2004 through 2050, assuming average annual precipitation. The CAWCD also estimated that 8.6 million acre-feet will be required over the same period by the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District, the authority responsible for protecting groundwater supplies in the CAWCD three-county service area. The CAWCD also estimated demand of 3.5 million acre-feet from the Arizona Water Bank for various purposes (e.g., use in Nevada), and a further 4.3 million acre-feet to replenish groundwater reserves. Based on these forecasts, Arizona appears to be faced with a shortfall of 7.4 million acre-feet of water in the period through 2050, which will require CAWCD to purchase additional supplies.
2. Sandy Valley, Nevada
In June 2002, the Nevada State Engineer awarded Vidler 415 acre-feet of water rights near Sandy Valley, Nevada. Vidler has filed another application for 1,000 acre-feet.
The water rights awarded to Vidler are the only known water to support future growth in Sandy Valley and surrounding areas in southwestern Nevada near the California state line, including Primm, Nevada. Primm is a resort town on the border between California and Nevada, in the Interstate 15 corridor. Primm requires additional water to support future growth, which could result from expansion of the existing hotel/casino and retail/commercial operations.
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The Southern Nevada Water Authority has released a master water resource plan (which can be viewed at www.snwa.com) to develop and deliver water supplies to meet regional growth demands. This plan consists of (1) the storage of water, including up to 1.25 million acre-feet in Arizona, combined with (2) the development of further water resources in Nevada. We believe that Vidler's assets are favorably positioned to contribute to the water resource solutions required in the Southwest.