Green Valley asks for aid from recalcitrant County officials

Forced into desperate measures, Community Water Company (CWC) is considering a partnership with August Mining Company to pay for a pipeline—only big enough to convey CAP water to offset the mining company’s pumping of 5,000 acre feet (af) annually near Sahuarita Road. CWC’s move was a last, desperate resort.

When all the details were out in the open, Green Valley residents were torn. We have to have additional water. However, we do not want it construed that we are aiding the mining company, as the County Supervisor, Ray Carroll, is alleging. He personally phoned anti-mining activists in Vail to come and crash the GV public meeting on the water dilemma. Everyone knows that if this project falls through, it does not mean that the mining permit will be denied.

If the water project does fall through, it will mean that, should the company be permitted, its pumping will create another 5,000 plus af deficit in the local water table. CWC’s plan means that recharge will be near the pumping.

Fortunately, a GV resident came up with an idea to attempt to get the recalcitrant County officials to take some action to help our community. Peggy Bonthron, with extensive experience with water management in California, tried for days to get the tax dollars GV property owners pay into the county fund. No data available.

Therefore, she penned a petition to be signed by GV residents to insist that the Board of Supervisors give an accounting of money collected from GV property owners, including a line item of money expended here in the past five years. Please go to , print out petition and sign.

Some water depletion history

In January 2006, GV residents met with federal, state and county officials (GV News and Sun, Jan. 26, 2006) to determine the amount of depletion in the aquifer and discuss possible remedies. When the data was compiled, the aquifer depletion averages a deficit of 31,000 af annually.

Seeking relief from the state water agency, residents were told there was nothing the agency could do. Well, there was one “thing”: they could continue to issue 100 year water supply certificates for new developments. What will be done when the water levels reach 1,000 feet where the water is more mineral-laden, pumping costs are higher, and subsidence will have occurred is never broached. Neither do their calculations include exempt pumping of mines and other industry that can set up any time—as Augusta plans to do.

Further, the Pima County officials said there was nothing they could do. Again, except one “thing”—continue permitting every Tom, Dick and Harry that wants to build here. Further, they claim they have no jurisdiction over water—but there’s always that one exception. They gave the GV wastewater to the Quail Creek developer. This deal was struck because the wastewater plant was out of compliance and Pima County did not want to pay to fix it.

No one has ever explained why GV was left out of the plans for the original CAP pipeline. In 1999, consultants were paid big bucks for “studying” bringing the CAP pipeline to GV. When they figured that it would take somewhere between 50 to 75 million dollars to construct the pipeline to Santa Cruz County line, the project disappeared into the desert dust.

Therefore, GV residents turned to County Board of Supervisors and Chuck Huckleberry, County Administrator. In March 2006, as representative of the Groundwater Awareness League, I gave a presentation to the Board (“Call to Audience” since Ray Carroll would not put the subject on the agenda) on the GV water depletion issue. When nothing had happened by March 2007, I began a campaign to get a hearing with the Board.

After two months, Dick Shuman penned a petition asking the Board to give some assistance with the deletion issue. With a lot of effort, Shuman managed to speak to Carroll for five minutes on one of his PR trips to Green Valley. Carroll insisted that 200 signatures on a petition were of no consequence. In the meantime, I had made contacts to get Elias and/or Huckleberry involved. In late June, 2007, the final word came from Huckleberry. If GV wants any study, they would have to do it through their own water company and come up with their own funds.

In addition to county taxes, I did some rough estimates of how much money GV residents have paid into the state CAP delivery system—some $11 million dollars have been paid by GV and Sahuarita property owners with no return whatsoever.

When all the numbers are in from the county tax collectors, I’m sure it will show that Green Valley has been Pima County’s wealthy sugar daddy—always giving, never receiving.


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