Green Valley, Sahuarita deserve a share of CAP water

2014-01-15T00:00:00Z Green Valley, Sahuarita deserve a share of CAP waterBy Virgil Davis Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

All residents in Pima County are created equal and assume they are equally entitled to their water. This assumption could be jeopardized if Rosemont Mine opponents convince the Tucson City Council to oppose Community Water Company of Green Valley’s pipeline connection.

Groundwater over-pumping in the Upper Santa Cruz River Basin is a matter of record. Water tables continue to decline at alarming rates. This aquifer supports major agricultural and industrial users, drinking water for your Green Valley/Sahuarita neighbors to the south and, after all of these uses, water still flows north to Tucson.

We can reduce this decline by bringing Central Arizona Project water to our communities. Community Water is requesting a temporary connection to a taxpayer-funded Pima Mine Road pipeline to bring our CAP water into Green Valley and Sahuarita.

Taxpayers via Tucson Water and CAP jointly funded a Pima Mine Road CAP Water pipeline — an area resource. CAP has already agreed to our connection, but the city of Tucson has yet to agree. The residents of Green Valley and Sahuarita have the same right to receive our renewable water as do the residents of Tucson. We need your support at the Tucson Council!

There is adequate volume in the pipeline and it will have no affect on Tucson Water’s own CAP allocations. This new eight-mile pipeline and recharge basin project will bring much needed CAP water to our over-pumped basin. The Bureau of Reclamation has approved our pipeline project, and corroborates Community Water’s position that the pipeline project does not support Rosemont’s mining application.

Opponents to Rosemont would have you and the Tucson Council believe that blocking Community Water’s access to its own CAP water will stop Rosemont from pumping groundwater and delay the mine’s application. This is because Augusta Resources, parent company of Rosemont Copper, is funding our $25 million pipeline project. They did not have to do this for their mining permit. They are the first industrial or agricultural company to voluntarily commit to recharge 105 percent of the water they will withdraw from our aquifer.

Rosemont is committed to recharge CAP water, but if Community Water’s connection request is denied that recharge will occur in Marana, where Rosemont Copper has already stored 45,000 acre-feet ahead of drawing any water from our aquifer.

Also, blocking Community Water’s access to its own CAP water allotment by denying access to the taxpayer funded Pima Mine Road pipeline will not stop Rosemont Copper from pumping ground water. The Arizona Department of Water Resources has already issued permits for Rosemont Copper to draw water from its local wells for its mining operation. With or without Community Water’s pipeline, Rosemont will still be able to draw its water.

Without a connection, construction that could be done this year, Community Water will have to wait several years until a new bridge is built on Pima Mine Road. This bridge will be structurally capable of supporting an expansion of the existing pipeline and an additional pipe for Community Water. This will only add years of unattended aquifer decline, while our area is denied access to its CAP water.

Opposing our connection doesn’t harm the mine; it harms the residents of our area, local construction workers and Community Water. A New Year’s wish: Support the Tucson Mayor and Council in voting to protect the aquifer we all share — and support your neighbors in Green Valley and Sahuarita.

Virgil Davis is chairman of the board of directors of the Community Water Company of Green Valley. Contact him at virgil@communitywater.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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