The Cochise County Connection
Thanksgiving Day, 2016. The Sierra Vista Herald publishes a front page story, an interview with County Supervisor Pat Call. The headline reads “Federal water rights threaten local wells”. Call had just returned from a deposition in Phoenix for a state court proceeding wherein the water rights for the BLM and Fort Huachuca will be determined as part of a 40 year old “Gila River Adjudication”. The State Attorney General’s office will argue on behalf of the State Land Department while the Department Of Justice for the Federal Government, in a three week long court preceding in November to determine federal water rights in our area.
Call says in the newspaper article that “If the DOJ is successful here, the BLM said four years ago at an Upper San Pedro Partnership meeting that if they get their federal reserved water rights they will begin shutting down any residential wells installed since 1988”. Call said further in the interview with SVH reporter Eric petermann that a BLM victory would have a significant impact on the economy of the entire county, including the cessation of all new housing construction, and the possible relocation of Fort Huachuca!
The story and its printing cast an instant blanket of nervous doubt over the economically depressed county and there is little likelihood we will see any real economic progress at least until after the 3 week court process in Phoenix ten months from now. Claims have been made that housing prices have already been effected by the story, and while the Herald/Review has not printed any followups on the story, numerous letters to the editor admonished Call for “fear mongering”, serious misjudgment, and misrepresentation of the facts.
One of those writers Is Robert Weissler, a retired Senior Research Programmer at Rand Corp and now the President of the Friends of the San Pedro, an advocacy group of volunteers determined to see that the river flows, above ground, and its rich bio-diversity be protected as a result. Weissler says the newspaper apparently doesn’t care about the “other side of the story” and was irresponsible in printing it without more research into the possibilities that could mitigate the need for drastic measures,
What is the nexus of the Gila River Adjudication, what started it, and why is it going through the courts? And how much of this is about development and developers, and why does Call think it might be a good idea for the County to pony up money to help defeat the federal water grab, a move Weissler says would be wrong for the county and a waste of scarce resources? And what motivated Supervisor Call to drop such a foreboding economic bomb, when in a year’s time so much could happen?
Categories | Local News
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