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  • Supervisors pass resolution to defend Outstanding Arizona Waters

    Jul 12, 2017 | Read More News
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    Davidson CanyonCienega CreekThe Pima County Board of Supervisors Tuesday voted 3-2 to pass a resolution affirming the county’s efforts to ensure water quality throughout the county and to participate in a state process reviewing surface water protections as part of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act). 

    Part of the state’s Triennial Review will include streams that are included on the Outstanding Arizona Waters list, a designation that protects these waters at the highest possible level under the Clean Water Act. There are portions of three streams in Pima County on the list, Cienega Creek, Davidson Canyon and Buehman Canyon. There are only 22 streams on the list and most are some of the most spectacular natural areas in the state, including Oak Creek, Aravaipa Creek and Fossil Creek. 

    A portion of Davidson Canyon in the eastern Santa Rita Mountains is included in the Rosemont Mine plan of operations under permitting review by the National Forest Service and the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps has cited the mine’s potential effect on Davidson Canyon and the stream’s OAW designation as a major concern as it studies whether to issue a permit allowing Hudbay Minerals, the company proposing the Rosemont mine, to alter the waters of Davidson Canyon.

    The OAW designation protects these 22 streams from any activity that would degrade their water quality. Davidson Canyon also feeds Cienega Creek, which has the same OAW protection. 

    The Board’s resolution calls for county staff to participate in the Triennial Review process and “oppose efforts to diminish or remove water quality protections for Cienega Creek, Davidson Canyon, Beuhman Canyon, or other Outstanding Arizona Waters.” 

    In a June letter to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry wrote that he was concerned OAW review, “demonstrates a desire (by Hudbay) to diminish the protections of surface waters in Pima County and elsewhere in the State to obtain necessary permits to build the proposed Rosemont Mine.”

    The Board resolution states that “Pima County residents rely on water derived from rain, surface runoff, underground aquifers and the Colorado River” and that the County has a “role in managing watersheds and protecting water quality.”

    The resolution directs county staff to manage pollution to “maintain water quality at a level needed to ensure human and wildlife health now and for future generations.”

    ADEQ held its first Triennial Review public meeting in June. Go to azdeq.gov for more information. 

    Photos: Top - Davidson Canyon; Bottom - Cienega Creek

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