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.

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