2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Aimee Houghton <aimeeh@cpeo.org>
Date: 18 May 2003 21:06:39 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Water Wars and DOD: The San Pedro River
[Fort Huachuca recently won an environmental award from the Secretary of Defense for its development of a plan to manage the impacts of base activities on the San Pedro river. This rider flies in the face of DOD's stated position. One would hope that the Department would point this out to the House Armed Services Committee.]

Arizona Star
May 18th 2003

Growth and the San Pedro

Once again, a short-sighted politician is trying to pull the plug on the San Pedro River. Rep. Rick Renzi, a Republican from Northern Arizona, is in effect trying to separate the growth of Sierra Vista and Fort Huachuca from the impact of that growth on the dwindling water in the San Pedro River. The same measure failed in Congress last year when it was introduced by Rep. Jim Kolbe, the Republican who, unlike Renzi, actually represents Sierra Vista and Southern Arizona.

Renzi evidently didn't get the message. Or maybe he felt that even though his home is in Northern Arizona, he still knows what's best for Sierra Vista because he grew up there and his father, U.S. Army Major General Gene Renzi (ret.), served there.

In any case, he felt inclined to resuscitate Kolbe's gasping amendment to the Base National Defense Authorization bill, which exempts Fort Huachuca from any responsibility "for water consumption that occurs outside of Fort Huachuca ... even though the water is derived from a watershed basin shared by the military installation and the water consumption outside of that installation may impact a critical habitat or endangered species out the installation."

What makes Renzi's amendment most peculiar is that it is ignorant of contemporary events. As recently as a year ago, U.S. District Judge Alfredo Marquez ruled that a biological opinion, prepared by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was wrong to conclude that the fort's water use would not adversely affect the San Pedro River. This is, one might conclude, a way of saying that water use on the fort can indeed have an adverse effect on the river.

Fort Huachuca has acknowledged as much, which suggests that Renzi is seeking to absolve the Army of a responsibility that it has already owned up to. Renzi chooses to ignore the fact that the fort has already acknowledged that because it is the major area employer and contractor, its activities significantly impact the aquifer that keeps the San Pedro River alive. Renzi may be unaware that Fort Huachuca has already taken responsible, far-reaching steps to cut back on its water use - building retention basins and recharging effluent, for example.

The Renzi rider, as the amendment is known, turns back the clock. Fort Huachuca, Sierra Vista and Cochise County all know there is a connection between growth, water consumption and the fate of a natural resource. A community based organization, the Upper San Pedro Partnership, exists to deal with that issue.

To view this article in full go to: http://www.azstarnet.com/star/today/30518editriver.html

Aimee R. Houghton
Associate Director, CPEO
1101 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036
tel: 202-452-8039; fax: 202-452-8095
Email: aimeeh@cpeo.org

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