Green Valley Water

There are three considerations in Green Valley: amount of water used, amount of water recharged to the aquifer, and solutions to balance out the continued deficit.
(Please note information on pollution issues are on

How do we know a water crisis is coming to Green Valley?

Past history—

1940-1973: Documentation of drawdown along Santa Cruz watershed in Sahuarita and Green Valley.

See map

1976: Disposition of FICO's suing of mining companies for over-pumping the aquifer, thereby usurping their water rights

FARMERS INVESTMENT COMPANY, a corporation, Appellant, v. Andrew L. BETTWY, as State Land Commissioner, and the State Land Department, a Department of the State of Arizona, and Pima Mining Company, a corporation, Appellees.

FARMERS INVESTMENT COMPANY, a corporation, Appellant, v. The ANACONDA COMPANY, a corporation, Amax Copper Mines, Inc., the Anaconda Company as partners in and constituting Anamax Mining Company, a partnership, Appellees. CITY OF TUCSON, Municipal Corporation, Appellant, v. ANAMAX MINING COMPANY, and Duval Corporation and Duval Sierrita Corporation, Appellees

Complete transcript


Mines Task Force study, aided and published by Pima County Associations of Governments, which was conducted as a result of FICO's law suits over water depletion and pollution, litigation that extended over a five year period.

Summary of recommendations of Mines Task Force (page 13 of report): Need for

1) Enhanced monitoring programs at each current mine site,

2) Development of water budgets for all mines [Note: a must that was never carried out]

3) Further investigations of tailings pond compaction and sliming,

4) Establishment of mine closure plans for containment of recharged pond water, and

5) Additional interceptor wells at Duval and possibly Anamax.

Unfortunately, there is no record of these recommendations being implemented or any further reporting available.

Present situation—

How much water do we need? Current usage (2006) = 68,000 acre feet (af)

  • FICO 29,800 af
  • PD Sierrita 26,690 af
  • Golf Courses 4,435 af
  • Municipal 6,689 af (both Sahuarita and Green Valley)
  • Sand and Gravel 465 af

How much water do we have? Total recharge of 28,000 af per year

  • Natural storm water 19,000 af
  • FICO incidental 7,000 af
  • Effluent 2,100 af
  • GWRD 650 af (paper water)

This is a deficit of 40,000 acre feet per year

Some data on major water users—


Mine Water useage table from ADWR


Water usage in Sahuarita-Green Valley region, including golf

Table of comparisons for golf water use

Golf Course Study done by two U of A graduate student

Solutions = More Water

    • CAP ( Colorado River) water
    • Storm/rain water
    • Wastewater
    • Pump less water = eliminate heaviest usage

Grandfathered Water Rights

    • FICO = 34,700 acre feet per year
    • Phelps Dodge = 37,900 acre feet per year
    • Golf Courses = 3,600 acre feet per year
    • Public = 0

Question: Who passed out this water when they didn’t even know how much water was available?

Issues with CAP Water—

  • Water Quality – must be filtered=
    • TDS = 650 to 800 mg/ltr
    • Radioactive chemicals from uranium tailings in Moab, Utah
  • Allocations
  • High cost of delivery
    • Pipeline
    • Capital costs
    • Delivery costs
    • Interest on loan
    • Maintenance
    • Filtering

Current Green Valley CAP Allocations

  • Community Water Company = 2,858 af
  • Green Valley Water Co. = 1,900 af
  • Phelps Dodge/ Cyprus = 0
  • FICO = 0
  • Golf Courses = 0
  • GWRD = 650

Total allocations = 5,408

Note: 5,408 acre feet will cover the municipal use of Green Valley and Sahaurita if it is filtered and piped directly. However, we still have the danger of subsidence as the aquifer continues to deplete at 2 to 3 feet per year.

What are some alternatives?

Storm Water

  • Storm water is free
  • Storm water is relatively clean
  • Soil is a great water filter of bacteria, virus, but not dissolved solids or chemicals (CAP).

Issues with Storm Water

  • How to collect it efficiently? (Chandler)
  • Surface water rights (ADWR)
  • Collect in strategic locations (USGS)
  • Silting of basins and dry wells (Chandler)

Cost Comparison

  • CAP water = $30 - $100 million for 5,408 af of allocations annually for initial set-up (full recommended plan of 1999 Feasibility Report)
  • Microbasins with 2 dry wells:
    • Basin construction = $15,000
    • Dry well = $15,000
    • 2 projects with 2 wells each = $90 thousand for approx. 1,000 to 5,000 af annually

What can be done now?

    Moratorium on building until water plan is in place (sorry, it's illegal to have a             moritorium on building in Arizona)
    All HOA’s required to use xeriscaping
    File for surface water rights for public
    Golf courses install drywells in low-lying areas
    Microbasins w/dry wells to capture storm water
    Storm-water reservoirs in Santa Rita Mountains:
    Inflatable low dams in washes
    Stop Pima County from scouring out washes (Accomplished)
    Fish barriers = Bureau of Reclamation (Update: Barriers are going in in Tubac area, too far away to have an impact here)
    Purchase pecan groves and convert to desert-landscaped park w/recharge basins
    (scratch this one: The official position is they do not want to sell. The houses now being built are on property sold some 30 years ago.)

PowerPoint Presentation giving Bottom Line of Depletion in Green Valley (must have PowerPoint software to open) NOTICE: This information is incorrect--the depletion is now 40,000 acre feet year!
Note: March 2006, This information was given to Pima County Board of Supervisors in written form in "Call to Audience" since Ray Carrol would not put issue on agenda for a thorough hearing.

PowerPoint Presentation on Possibilities of Water Augumentation in Green Valley

PowerPoint Presentation giving Scouring of Washes in Green Valley by Pima County Flood Contol

Water Usage statistics from ADWR= Groundwater depletion = 2 to 3 ft. per year.

Data Table of Water Levels at Community Water Co.

ADWR Modeling Map of subsidence potential in Green Valley in 2025.

Map of deleting water levels due to local mining operations

Map from latest report from ADWR [Arizona Department of Water Resources]

Articles on Water Depletion in Green Valley

The Water Saga — Latest Chapter 11/10/05

Looking for solutions to depletion of our water supply 1/15/06

What can we do about our diminishing water supply? 2/10/06

CAP is not enough 2/25/07

A Plan for a Plan 3/8/07

E-mail to Ray Carroll and Chuck Huckleberry-3/8/07
(neither ever replied—after a dozen calls to Ray's office, a staff person told me he would not put anything on the agenda, to contact Richard Elias)
After to lengthly explainations by phone to Elias' staff person, Keith Bagwell, and sending him the same e-mail as above (2 times--he couldn't remember the issue) and speaking to Elias personally--there was no response from him either.

Green Valley requests aid from recalcitrant County officials

Meeting of federal, state and county water officials and experts regarding Green Valley water situation —January 2006

Attendees and Agenda


Complete transcript of water meeting of experts
— it's long!



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