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|Pipeline repairs spout controversy over construction|
|Written by Michelle A. Monroe|
|Thursday, 08 March 2012 03:46|
One more spring is online at Tombstone’s main water line, but officials worry that it could soon be ruined.
The city requested to put a barrier around the spring to protect it from the mud, water and rocks that will come in the spring, but were denied.
“We were not permitted to do that construction even though it was fully permitted on Miller Spring,” said George Barnes, city manager and city clerk.
The wildfires and rains during 2011’s summer primed the area around the pipeline for mudslides, which brought Volkswagen-sized boulders down on the gravity-powered aqueduct. The pipeline, located in the Huachuca Mountains, was severely damaged and Tombstone’s main water supply has been cut off since.
“The lines are exposed and they can be swept away and we’ll probably have to go back up and put new lines on again,” Barnes said. “It’s highly likely.”
Fixing Gardner means the city is getting more water trickling into it, but no where near enough to get Tombstone out of emergency mode.
Now officials are focusing on finishing paperwork to get money released from Arizona’s emergency funds to start construction on one of the springs located outside the wilderness.
Animal migration season started on March 1 and severely limits the places that Tombstone can begin construction because the pipeline is directly in the pathway of several types of animals.
“The U.S. Forest Service decided arbitrarily that the entire wilderness is the pack boundary, but that’s not where the boundaries used to be,” Barnes said. “Seems like an awful lot of habitat, and the irony is that the habitat is destroyed after the wildfires and mudslides.”
Now the city is hoping to start digging and constructing on the few springs outside the boundary.
“We’re doing the best we can to fix what we can,” Barnes said.
When the migration season ends is not clear yet to city officials, but it could be interpreted to be as late as August, Barnes said.
Tombstone filed suit against the U.S. Forest Service and has been in federal court since January. The judge proposed mediation and while both sides met for around nine hours, no solution was found.
Now, the trial judges asked for the case to be briefed again and have both sides narrow the information down. The next court date has not been set.