(From the Arizona Daily Star, July 15, 2017): A planned state water-quality review of streams is sparking concerns among Pima County officials that two in Southeastern Arizona may lose their strict legal protection.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, at the request of Hudbay Minerals Inc., will review the state’s past decisions to protect 22 streams across the state, including Davidson Canyon and Cienega Creek near Tucson, that are classified as Outstanding Arizona Waters. This work will be part of a broader state review of surface water-quality standards typically done every three years.
At the same time, some heavy metal contamination has already been discovered in both streams, officials said last week. While Outstanding Arizona Waters are legally supposed to have good water quality, ADEQ is noncommittal as to the contamination’s impact on the streams’ future status.
Hudbay’s letter and the state’s response have triggered suspicion from County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry that Hudbay wants to remove key protections for Cienega and Davidson.
Save the Scenic Santa Ritas submitted comments to ADEQ as part of the Triennial Review of State Water Quality Standards, as did Pima County. Links to both are below.