2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 4 Sep 2003 14:12:58 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Rocket-Fueled River
Environmental Pollution
Rocket-Fueled River
By Cheryl Hogue
August 18, 2003

Lower Colorado carries perchlorate to millions who drink its water, to
those who eat lettuce irrigated with its water, and into a tribal well

Alberto Ramirez stands on a great earthen dike under the relentlessly
blazing sun. The dike was built to ensure that when huge storms come,
the really big ones anticipated to arrive every 100 years, the water
that drains off the mountains won't wash away the development below.

To Ramirez' right is scrubby desert terrain, spotted with low-growing
creosote bush, that extends across a plain and up nearby mountains.

To his left, under a brilliant blue sky, is the edge of a valley in the
southeastern corner of California. Rectangular parcels of green
developed land flourish as oases amid undeveloped tracts of desert. A
golf course is under construction nearby, and workers wearing
wide-brimmed straw hats unroll strips of thirsty turf on the sandy soil.
Closer to the dike, with strips of burlap at the ready, laborers at a
nursery dig up the root balls of towering palm trees that will landscape
nearby resorts in the Palm Springs area. And just up a gentle slope is a
tract of the Torrez Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian reservation with a
church and neat collection of one-story houses that are home to several
members of the tribe.

Those homes have Ramirez' attention.

As environmental director for the Torrez Martinez tribe, Ramirez must
ensure the supply--and the quality--of the drinking water to the
families in those houses. These 35 households get their water from a

That well, according to Ramirez, is now contaminated with perchlorate, a
component of rocket fuel.

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