Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Federal Judge to Tombstone: No H20 for You!

Posted By on Wed, May 16, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Looks like Tombstone will have to make due with the water it can get to.

So says a federal judge, who earlier this week denied the city's motion for a preliminary injunction related to it being denied access to a series of water sources in the Huachuca Mountains west of Tombstone.

Tombstone filed suit against the U.S. Forest Service in December, saying the agency was preventing it from repairing busted water lines by slowing down the permitting process necessary, according to court records. The water lines were damaged during wildfires in summer 2011 that led to rock slides crushing the pipes.

Tombstone officials claimed in their suit that without proper access to those mountain springs, which it claimed rights to dating back to the 1800s, the popular Cochise County tourist destination could dry out.

In his ruling, though, U.S. District Court Judge Frank Zapata said Tombstone's doom and gloom claims were "overstated and speculative," and in actuality it appeared the city was attempting to "engage iin activity resulting in new construction" that would require excavators and other equipment cutting swaths through the Coronado National Forest.

The lawsuit remains active, though, pending any settlements or withdrawal of claims. Both sides have until June 15 to file a joint status report with the court, after which time a scheduling order will be made to determine when a trial would happen, if needed.

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