Monday, May 27, 2013

More info on the CAP Pipeline to Green Valley Kerfuffle

As I briefly mentioned in my previous post, the City of Tucson is looking at setting up some policy guidance (pdf) to help them evaluate proposals to hook into a pipeline, jointly owned by the city and the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (the CAP), at the end of the CAP canal/pipeline south of Tucson.  Nothing is set in stone yet - the Mayor and Council instructed staff to make some modifications to the criteria they considered, then bring it back for a vote sometime this summer.  But there has been plenty of grandstanding about what is best for the city, what is best for our shared aquifer, and who is a good steward of our resources.  I jumped into the fray myself last week by submitting a guest opinion that was published in the local paper.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Some quick updates

As expected, an environmental organization has filed suit against the state over the approval of a large development in the Sierra Vista area (I discussed this in a previous post in March).  Earthjustice issued a press release yesterday (it also includes a link to their complaint) announcing their suit filed in Maricopa County Superior Court.  I've only skimmed the complaint and it looks pretty straightforward.  I look forward to the response from the state.

I was also alerted recently to a report recently issued by the Columbia University Water Center and Veolia Water titled "America's Water Risk: Water Stress and Climate Variability".  It looks at relative risk of water scarcity in each county in the U.S.  They employ a statistical methodology that looks at past climate data to assess the likelihood of a severe drought that could exhaust available water storage in each area.  As you might expect they find significant risk in places where long-term storage is not part of the supply - mostly in the east - and places that are highly reliant on vulnerable sources from considerable distance - i.e. Southern California.  I was happy to see that Arizona is not among the places at greatest risk.  That's cause we live with scarcity all the time and plan for it.

There was also some water management related excitement here in Tucson this week as the city council looked at setting criteria (pdf) for allowing 3rd parties to hook into a pipeline that carries CAP water to a recharge facility south of the city.  This relates to a couple of proposals by entities in the Green Valley/Sahuarita-area, which is upstream along the Santa Cruz river, who would like to take delivery of existing allocations of Colorado River water via the CAP system to be put in the ground as mitigation for their large-scale pumping of groundwater over many years.  One of the potential recipients of such an arrangement could be a company called Rosemont Copper, who wants to construct a large copper mine in the mountains south of Tucson.  Many in the city are opposed to the mine and think that if they deny Rosemont the ability to offset their groundwater pumping with recharge of CAP water they will be less likely to get their permits approved.  It's a long shot, but getting the Forest Service to deny a permit for a hard-rock mine on federal land is always a long shot.  I'll have a longer post on this issue probably next week, because there is a lot of nuance to it.