November 2 - November 8, 1995

NORMALLY, YOU WOULDN'T find the voices on these pages in agreement on anything. In fact, if you put these half-dozen folks in a room together, you'd probably find Tucson's already staggering homicide count rise even higher.

But they've come together this week to encourage you to vote in favor of Proposition 200, the Water Consumer Protection Act. Despite what the greedhead developers, establishment media, spineless politicians and consultant-whores might say in their well-financed and unscrupulous attacks on Prop 200, it's simply an insurance policy.

Your "Yes" vote will prevent that crappy CAP gunk from flowing through our faucets once again. Of course, once CAP water is as good as the groundwater we're now drinking--hey, no problem.

And if that weren't enough, Prop 200 amends the city code to require recharge of all groundwater withdrawals over any five-year period, thus forever preserving our area's most valuable resource.

On the other hand, you could let those other guys, the ones who stand to profit from rapid, CAP-fueled growth, tell you what to do. And what to swallow.
--The Editors

By David Devine

Once upon a time, there was a Southwestern city in which the big, self-important BOSSES delared, for no apparent reason, "There's a water problem!"

To solve this "problem," many ideas were proposed. Some were simple --like taking low-quality Colorado River water and having farms and mines use it. Others were a little more complicated--such as using the river water on golf courses and other large, grassy areas. Still another idea was simply to pour the water into Tucson's dry rivers and let nature recharge it.

pix But the BOSSES had their own ideas. "We must spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build a fancy new facility, a monument to ourselves," they insisted. "This facility will show that modern water technology can work, and that we care about our subjects." So they built a treatment plant and opened it with great fanfare. The MAYOR, friend of the BOSSES, proclaimed he couldn't tell the difference between the pristine groundwater the subjects had been drinking and the chemically treated, 100 percent processed river water coming from the plant.

Unfortunately, he was one of only a few who felt that way. Many of the subjects soon cried out that their water was foul-tasting, foul-smelling and, of course, just plain foul. They demanded better water.

While some of the BOSSES said, "Let them drink CAP," others worried about their upcoming election chances. So they shut down the wildly expensive treatment plant, let the subjects keep drinking groundwater, and hired a consultant to tell them what to do next. And nobody ever after was happy.

This may be a fairy tale of the fractured variety, but it sums up how Tucson came to have the Water Consumer Protection Act on the ballot next week. Why do I favor this initiative? Because people shouldn't have to drink CAP water they shouldn't have to have it ruining the galvanized steel pipes in their homes, and they shouldn't have to pay for yet another expensive experimental treatment plant.

I don't have the answers to our CAP water problems. The scary thing is, I know the Tucson City Council and the officials of Tucson Water don't either. Passing Proposition 200 will at least force them to pursue non-drinking uses for CAP.

Of course, they don't want to do this because it will be difficult and time-consuming. Plus, expensive consultants won't have to be hired to help them. But non-drinking uses for CAP water must be aggressively pursued, and passage of the initiative will ensure that they are.

If we use CAP water for drinking, chemical treatment and some type of expensive pre-treatment to remove salts and other materials in the water will be required. But if we use it for agriculture, mining, landscaping and other non-drinking purposes, we can save ourselves a lot of money by not having to build more fancy experimental facilities. Plus, we can drink the highest-quality water available to us--groundwater.

Using CAP water for non-drinking purposes just makes sense to me. Passing the water initiative will give the BOSSES just the incentive they need to find these uses for CAP water.

That's the right ending for this Tucson fairy tale.

David Devine is a local political activist and freelance writer.

By Sharon Collins

I SUPPORT THE Water Consumer Protection Act because the Tucson Water Department, mayor and city council have no policy when it comes to CAP water. Thirty-nine thousand dollars have been spent over the last 10 years in studies alone, and still we have no solution to the delivery problems of CAP water.

Tucson's water is far more valuable than gold and copper. if we run out of water, our great city will quickly become nothing but a ghost town. We need CAP. But Tucson was sold a bill of goods when treated CAP water was forced into our homes to replace our higher quality groundwater.

pix Furthermore, as part of this debacle, Mayor George Miller unveiled a monument to money-wasting called the CAP treatment plant. The mayor's plant may be closed now, but the bill for this astonishing mismanagement has been handed to us taxpayers on a rusty platter. One-hundred million dollars and growing.

I support the three R's--recharge, replenish, restore. We must recharge CAP water into our aquifer, properly replenish our underground water supplies and restore the confidence of our citizens that their tax dollars are being wisely spent.

I will work with farmers and miners to see that they take more CAP water, thus saving our precious groundwater for residential consumption.

Let's hook the CAP system into our reclaimed-water system for delivery to golf courses and parks. Let's proceed quickly with a CAP lake for boating, fishing and other water-based recreation.

How lucky we are to have one of the largest underground water supplies in the nation, and an allotment of CAP water, too!

Sharon Collins is the Republican candidate for mayor.

By Richard Wiersma

IN 1992, DISASTER struck Tucson. The water utility began serving chemically treated CAP water to half its customers, and the switchboards lit up with complaints almost immediately. The brown, foul-tasting, highly-corrosive water destroyed plumbing and appliances. It killed pets, plants and caused rashes and allergic reactions in people.

pix Stubborn, or clueless, city officials have apparently learned nothing from their past mistakes. Their next scheme is to ruin our excellent quality groundwater by blending it with chemically treated CAP water and send it to our homes. This witches' brew will contain the old chemicals along with new poisons such as caustic soda--and no matter the city's own consultant indicated this blend could be even more corrosive than the original version. It's clear the city bureaucrats will go to any extreme to open the treatment plant, because they're too embarrassed to admit their past failures.

Passage of Proposition 200 will prevent the water company from delivering foul-tasting, bad-quality, corrosive water. Instead it calls for the continued use of our award-winning groundwater.

Proposition 200 also calls for the beneficial use of CAP water for recharge and swaps with mines and farms. This addresses the problem of overdrafting the underground reservoir, which is as big as lakes Mead and Powell combined. By recharging more water than we withdraw--positive recharge--we raise the water table, lower pumping costs and secure our water supply.

Another huge benefit of Proposition 200 is that it would create water recreation. Multi-purpose recharge lakes throughout the metropolitan area would become playgrounds for fisherman, windsurfers, boaters and swimmers. Streambed recharge would transform our linear parks into attractive, riparian oases that will delight bird-watchers, picnickers and outdoor connoisseurs.

Opponents of recharge deceptively state Prop 200 would cause water bills to skyrocket. However, cities which recharge find this natural method of water purification is a small fraction of the cost of chemical treatment. For example, the Granite Reef recharge project near Phoenix cost just $1.2 million to build. It can recharge some 120,000 acre feet of water per year at a cost less than $10 an acre foot, compared to $81.50 for chemical treatment. Include the $250 million that has been extorted from ratepayers for the failed chemical treatment plant and it's clear chemical treatment has been a costly mistake in Tucson.

In this David versus Goliath battle, common people are aligned against the power brokers, land developers, governmental bureaucrats and paid consultants who make up Tucson's "water Mafia." The aim of this Mafia is to control the water policy and resources of this basin, because water means power and money in the arid Southwest.

Your "Yes" vote on November 7 for Proposition 200 is needed to break the water Mafia's grip and ensure excellent quality water in Tucson for generations to come.

Please vote "Yes" on Proposition 200.

Richard Wiersma is chairman of Citizens Voice to Restore and Replenish Quality Water.

By Bob Beaudry

BACK IN 1987, when the question of CAP water use first came to the table, like so many other Tucsonans, I was convinced by the propaganda that this surface water supply could be treated to an acceptable quality for home use. So I supported construction of the chemical treatment plant. And, like so many other Tucsonans, I found I was wrong.

pix Back then, the facts were deliberately manipulated to present the construction of an expensive water treatment plant as the best alternative for handling our CAP allocation. That campaign of deception misled and misinformed the electorate as to the condition of our aquifer, the viability of recharge, the acceptability of alternatives and especially the fact that the proposed treatment plant involved the use of the chemical disinfectants chloramine and ammonia, the by-products of which, THMs, are 15 times more toxic than TCE.

I've devoted the last two years of my life to researching this issue at every level, serving on the board at Southern Arizona Water Resources Association, traveling to other communities with similar water use questions, investigating the alternatives of enhanced treatment, recharge, groundwater exchanges and all the other possibilities to protect our community from the very real hazards chemically treated CAP water poses when served to consumers in Tucson and Pima County.

Rhetorical arguments and partisan politics aside, a community fortunate enough to have an abundant high-quality aquifer should not, under any circumstances, be drinking CAP water polluted with parasites, heavy minerals and toxic chemicals. Nor should we permit well-injection of this same polluted water into our aquifer when viable purification options such as streambeds and basin recharge exist.

I've come to the conclusion that Proposition 200, the Water Consumer Protection Act, is the best possible interim step this city can take to ensure that we don't once again rush headlong into disaster. At the very least, we'll have five more years to explore alternative uses and developing technology capable of offering true protection from the hazards of drinking parasite- and bacteria-ridden CAP water. At best, we'll have found the perfect solution to a complex question. The initiative is the only tool now available to force the city to deliver drinking water of the highest quality. It enhances our long-term groundwater supply through recharge and provides the necessary flexibility to comply with the state's 100-year assurance requirements.

I encourage every Tucsonan to support this initiative by voting "Yes" on Proposition 200 on November 7. After all, you'll be drinking it.

Bob Beaudry, a local businessman, has led the fight for Proposition 200.

By Ed Moore

HERE ARE SOME basic, undisputed facts about water in Tucson:

• This community has immense bodies of pure groundwater which, if pumped, should be replaced.

• If CAP ditch water is used for our drinking supply, we'll need very expensive treatment facilities. If groundwater is used, we don't need the chemical treatment plant--and there's less cost for a better product. The only added cost is for additional wells to retrieve unpolluted water.

Proposition 200 does not create the problems its opponents claim. In fact, the requirements of Proposition 200 can be accomplished easily if the City of Tucson joins the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District (GRD). Here's how it works:

pix The city pays a $50 application fee to join the GRD. Then we pump groundwater for our potable water supply, while the GRD replaces the groundwater by recharging CAP water. The City of Tucson pays the cost of recharge and receives an automatic 100-year assurance of adequate supplies for its service area--something developers and annexation-hungry city bureaucrats will love. Also, our water supply would meet all federal and state requirements.

The GRD is no deep, dark secret. Marana, the Oro Valley area and Metro Water have all either joined or are in the process of joining.

If the current city plan is adopted, however, we spend $800 million and we drink chemically treated ditch water. Opponents of Proposition 200 cry foul, claiming that spending $50 to join the GRD does not include operation and maintenance costs. Well, the $800 million the city wants to spend doesn't include those costs either--and the price tag just keeps going up.

What's more, city officials seem to be pushing their plan in an effort to confuse the issue and buy time. Here's what their long-term strategy really looks like:

Phase One: Distribute baseless, misleading claims and scare tactics to defeat Proposition 200. Promise to spend money only on limited projects and pledge to stay on groundwater for seven years, starting after the 1995 election.

Phase Two: Perform more multimillion-dollar studies to convince the people we must save the treatment plant and chemically treat CAP water. Somehow "prove" recharge is not possible in the Tucson area. Hire more consultants to freshen up our water image and "prove" treated CAP water is really better than groundwater.

Phase Three: Ignore the promises made in phases one and two.

The self-aggrandizing forces arrayed against Proposition 200 include paid city employees, paid consultants and members of the boards and committees that created our problems in the first place. They simply don't care if our water rates double or triple while our quality of life deteriorates, because they'll be making big money in the process. Also opposing it are folks who, simply put, have been duped.

And just look at the plaintiffs in the ill-fated lawsuit to keep this issue off the ballot; just look at the contributors who want to defeat the issue in the election. Among them:

Burr-Brown, a former TCE water-polluter at Tucson Airport; Wick Communications, publisher of the Daily Territorial newspaper; car dealer Buck O'Rielly; home-building giant the Estes Organization; beer distributor Dorothy Finley; and business leaders such as the Dusenberrys. Generally, these are people who stand to profit from rapid, water-fueled population growth.

But whatever their motivations, anti-Prop 200 leaders in this community blindly ignore the millions of dollars spent on failed schemes and blithely disregard the general good of the people who live here.

I hope voters will remember what happened the last time CAP water came through our lines. I hope they'll remember the millions and millions of dollars down the drain. Proposition 200 protects people, and this community is tired of trial and error.

Ed Moore is a Republican Pima County supervisor.

By Emil Franzi

IT'S TIME FOR opponents to quit trying to make the Citizen's Water Initiative a complex issue. It isn't. It's really simple.

Many people believe this state's officials mistakenly bought into getting the feds to build the Central Arizona Project. For years, CAP was one of the biggest sacred cows on the political horizon. We live in a desert and we just might run out of water--pretty obvious. Only we were using that water for mining and farming, and that was precisely the use for which CAP water was intended--not urban drinking water.

pix Mining is no longer terribly relevant to our economy. Agriculture is still with us, but in a diminished capacity. So now that we got 'em to build this thing, what are we supposed to do with the water?

Drink it. Bathe in it. Cook with it. Wash cars with it. That's why we built a massive treatment plant at a cost of close to $100 million. Only one problem: The treatment didn't work and the bureaucracy and politicians in charge either didn't know any better or lied about it. Thank God some members of the Tucson City Council at least showed some guts and turned it off.

But they didn't follow through. Because nobody really knows how to clean that CAP crap up. What we get from the CAP is basically all the sewage and salt and sediments that flows into the canal from here to the Colorado River. What works in other places--closer to the source--may work here, then again, maybe not. In fact, nothing may ever work to clean up that gunk, which is why the land speculators, developers, builders, and the rest of the "Tucson 30" are so afraid of Proposition 200.

Because Prop 200 is real simple. It says you have five years to make that CAP water as good as the groundwater we were drinking before. Period. We don't care how--recharge, blending, big boiling vats--doesn't matter. Opponents have lied, city water staff has lied, politicians have lied and hired PR people have lied--but that's the issue.

What's driving the growth establishment bonkers is the possibility they won't be able to comply with Prop 200's simple mandate to provide clean water. Why? Because if they can't, growth slows down. Because they might not be able to prove there's enough water to let land speculation and development continue to run rampant. Because they just might not be able to cram a couple million more folks into this valley. Because they might have to start paying realistic water impact fees for that new growth.

Subsidized development has been a way of life in this valley since the Gadsden Purchase. Water is inextricably intertwined with that subsidized growth. Many of the people who oppose the Citizen's Water Initiative don't give a rat's ass if your kids or somebody else's glow in the dark--they've got land deals to worry about and houses to build.

You've heard a lot of false charges from those folks:

• About how Prop. 200 mandates recharge and that will pollute our existing water supply.

No, it doesn't mandate recharge--unless it's proved it works. And the city's existing CAP contract calls for multiple use anyway, including recharge.

• About how we might lose our CAP allotment to other states if we don't use it up.

Probably not--but if the stuff's undrinkable or the mines and farmers don't want it, why should we care?

• About how it "ties the hands" of local officials.

Damn straight. Should've tied 'em long ago. In fact, should've strung some people up.

• And other bogus TV scare tactics too stupid and plainly propagandistic to bother with.

Bottom line--Prop 200 ensures one thing only. That what comes out of your tap will be at least as good as what used to come out of it before they turned on the CAP. That's it.

Forget the lies generated by the development machine, their stooge politicians and the City of Tucson staff.

Vote "Hell Yes" on Proposition 200.

Emil Franzi is The Weekly's automatic weapons editor.

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November 2 - November 8, 1995

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