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|Pipeline drowning in vandalism problems|
|Written by Amanda Seely|
|Tuesday, 17 April 2012 04:24|
The most recent problem is vandalism to the pipelines to Miller Spring and Gardner Spring.
“People are going out there to the pipeline when we’re not around, and they’re damaging the pipeline, taking it apart, dropping boulders into our valve assemblies, and really creating a lot of grief for us,” said Kevin Rudd, public works project manager.
Someone is also trying to prevent crews from accessing the work sites.
“One of the residents there has built a fence across the right of way road and put ‘No Trespassing’ signs up,” said George Barnes, city clerk and city manager. “It’s a perpetual right of way. A lot of it we literally own.”
Someone has been ruining the paths for a new pipeline.
“We went in there and about every 50 feet or so we marked trees with these blue ribbons, and we’ve done that three times, and the ribbons have been pulled down three times,” Rudd said.
The crews have had to go back and redo all of their work each time.
“Somebody’s determined to give us a tough time,” Barnes said. “It’s hard enough having to fight Mother Nature, but this is really tough.”
Police reports have been filed with the Cochise County Sheriff’s Department, and the city is employing new strategies to prevent future vandalism.
“We’re working on implementing some new protocol that might help us catch the individuals,” Rudd said.
“Doing that is a crime,” Barnes said. “It’s a public water system. It’s almost into the terrorism when you start doing things like that. If we could find who’s doing it and illustrate it, they will be prosecuted.”
Vandalism is not new to the pipelines.
“We’ve had problems from the start,” Barnes said. “Earlier this year, we had a backhoe up there and someone went over and loosened the hydraulic fittings. That could have cost someone’s life. Later we had an excavator and someone smashed the door and the window on the excavator.”
Rudd said the troubles are nothing new.
“I think the problems are pretty much on-going with Tombstone historically,” Rudd said. “There’s just been a lot more awareness of the pipeline because we’re doing the repairs right now. ”
Tombstone citizens are beginning to speak out about the pipeline problems.
Barnes said that the project is pushing on despite these setbacks.
“At the same time, we’re making some progress,” he said.
To protect the catchment areas from being clogged by debris, officials filled the area with rocks, starting with larger ones and transitioning to smaller ones closer to the surface, finally being covered by dirt.
“The water flows through just like it was a screen,” Barnes said. “The catchment area is invisible, and any junk that does roll down the hill rolls over it and not into it.”
Tombstone has begun to receive some help.
“We’re getting help at least in terms of politically,” Barnes said.
While no progress has been made with the Forest Service, state Rep. Jeff Flake and the Arizona and New Mexico Coalition of Counties have both offered their support.