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Harvesting rainwater: Huachuca City Library receives water storage tank

HUACHUCA CITY — When monsoon arrives later this month, the Huachuca City Public Library will be harvesting rainwater from its rooftop.

On Saturday, Rick Weisberg of Oasis Water Harvesting and Mary Ann Capehart of the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Water Wise program teamed up for a presentation at the library on the benefits of rainwater harvesting and the basic components of a rainwater storage system.

Following the presentation, Weisberg set a 2,600-gallon water storage tank on a prepared spot near the library’s Discovery Garden.

The tank’s installation was made possible through an Upper San Pedro Partnership water conservation grant, managed by the UA Cooperative Extension Water Wise Program. Friends of the Huachuca City Library applied for and were awarded the funding, which came in at around $2,000.

Water will be harvested from one corner of the library’s roof where two scuppers are located for drainage.

“One inch of rain from that area of the roof will produce 750 gallons of water,” Weisberg said. “A little over three inches of rain will fill that tank. During the monsoon season, we typically get between six and seven inches of rain, so they could fill that tank twice during the summer rains.”

Because the tank is located in a high-traffic area where it will get a lot of visibility, Weisberg hopes it will generate interest in rainwater harvesting.

“It’s like a billboard for water harvesting,” Weisberg said.

Huachuca City Councilwoman Joy Banks said the hope is to transform a vacant, unkempt area of property immediately north of the library into a demonstration garden, where residents can learn water conservation techniques.

“With the town’s recent increase in water rates, I know there are a lot of residents who are very concerned about the rate increases, so our hope is that people look at the harvesting system and see if it’s something they might like to try for landscape purposes,” Banks said.

The Friends of the Huachuca City Library organization plans to seek more grant funding to help pay for the demonstration garden and other related projects, Banks said.

“We would like to take that empty piece of property and make it lush and attractive with native plants, as well as plants that attract pollinators and birds,” she said. “The goal is to create pathways through the demonstration garden for our community to enjoy, while giving people landscaping ideas for their own properties.”

Along with the landscape plants, vegetable gardens that are maintained primarily from harvested rainwater are another component the group would like to bring to the library property.

Whetstone resident Ann Aust first met Rick Weisberg in 2007 when he designed and installed a rainwater harvesting system with 3,000 gallons of storage capacity at her home in Whetstone. She was one of the attendees at Saturday’s presentation.

“I was delighted when I learned that Suzanne Harvey had obtained funding for Mr. Weisberg to install a rainwater harvesting system on the Huachuca City Library building,” Aust said. “It’s great to have this collection tank at the library where visitors can see firsthand how simple and useful these systems are. I came to listen to the discussion before the tank was set up to see what was new in rainwater harvesting. I was not disappointed.”

Aust said she was particularly interested in learning how to set up successful drip irrigation systems that could be gravity fed with rainwater from a collection tank, thereby supplying water to gardens without electricity.

Harvey, director of library services and a former teacher, said she would like to educate children about the advantages of water harvesting systems in desert environments.

“I’m thrilled to see this happening for Huachuca City,” she said of the water harvesting system. “We’re hoping this is just the start of more things to come, loaded with great educational opportunities for our community.”

Ducey downplays possible effects of tariff threats

PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey took a swat of sorts Monday at businesses who are concerned about the effects of the president’s threatened tariffs on the state and national economy.

Ducey, speaking with reporters, specifically mentioned the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which released a study saying that a 5 percent tariff — the first step that Trump plans to impose on June 10 — would increase costs to Arizona consumers by about $452 million. The chamber also said if the levy goes to 25 percent in October, as the president has threatened, that would translate out to an additional nearly $2.3 billion paid by Arizonans.

Ducey was unimpressed.

“Well, the U.S. Chamber is going to prioritize commerce,’’ he said.

“That’s why they’re called the Chamber of Commerce,’’ Ducey continued. “The Arizona governor is going to prioritize safety.’’

And Ducey said he believes it’s possible to do both.

The study by the U.S. Chamber is just part of the group’s efforts to deter Trump from imposing the tariffs. The group also has said it is “exploring all options, including legal action’’

A spokesman for the U.S. Chamber declined to respond Monday to Ducey’s comments.

But it isn’t just the concerns of the national chamber that Ducey is minimizing. There also are the comments of Glenn Hamer, president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry who late last week said the president’s announcement of an escalating system of tariffs against Mexico is “baffling and, if carried out, will be terribly damaging.’’

“This will only inflict harm on the U.S. consumer,’’ he told Capitol Media Services.

And Hamer pointed out that tariffs are not paid by the foreign country or even the foreign company that is exporting the goods, but are added on to the costs for customers here.

Ducey on Monday brushed aside that threat of tariffs to the state’s Arizona financial situation.

“Our economy is roaring right now,’’ the governor said in response.

“Our economy is doing terrific,’’ he continued. “Our economy is going to continue doing terrific.’’

And what of the fact that tariffs are paid not by the host country but by U.S. consumers in the form of higher prices?

“There are no tariffs,’’ the governor said as he got into his vehicle and left.

Not yet.

Central to the issue are plans announced by Trump late last week in a Twitter post threatening to impose a 5 percent tariff on all imports from Mexico starting this coming Monday “until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP.’’

He later expanded that to say the tariffs will go to 10 percent on July 1, 15 percent a month later, 20 percent a month after that, and finally 25 percent by Oct. 1.

“Tariffs will permanently remain at the 25 percent level unless and until Mexico substantially stops the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory,’’ the statement reads. And it says that the question of whether Mexico has taken the proper steps to stem the flow — and whether to end the tariffs — is “to be determined in our sole discretion and judgment.’’

Ducey said that, if nothing else, there’s another benefit to tariffs in the form of media attention.

“Well, are we talking about the border again?’’ he asked reporters questioning him on Monday.

“Are you guys talking about the border?,’’ Ducey continued. “Good. Now let’s get something done on the border.’’

And the governor insisted that, despite the number of news stories written about the flow of migrants from Central America , the issue “is not getting the focus nationally or locally in terms of what’s happening.’’

His proof? The fact that there is a “humanitarian crisis, the security crisis that’s happening at the border.’’

“And there’s been no action.’’

Ducey also sought to place much of the blame for the crush of migrants at the border on Congress..

He said federal officials, constrained by statutes and the number of detention facilities about how long people who seek asylum can be kept, have no choice but to release people into local communities.

“Congress makes the law,’’ the governor said. “They’ve had no changes in the law.’’

And Ducey sees a motive behind all that.

“They’ve used this as a political issue as if the 2020 race has already started,’’ he said.

And that gets back to the point of Ducey siding with the president in threatening to impose tariffs as a method of pressuring Mexico to stem the flow of Central American refugees through that country enroute to the U.S. border.

“Governors and mayors can do all they can,’’ Ducey said. “If you can’t see that these nonprofits are at their breaking point, then you would be calling for the same action I’m calling for.’’

Ducey has found himself not only at odds with the business community on the issue of tariffs but even among some members of his own Republican Party. That includes U.S. Sen. Martha McSally whom the governor appointed to office.

“I do not support these types of tariffs, which will harm our economy and be passed onto Arizona small businesses and families,’’ she said in a prepared statement.

And on Monday, Congressman David Schweikert said he understands the thinking of the president in trying to pressure Mexico to “lock’’ its southern border. But he told KTAR that tariffs are not the answer.

“With Mexico being Arizona’s No. 1 trading partner by far, it sort of becomes a double whammy on the people of Arizona,’’ he said. “We suffer a lot of the cost.’’

Still, Schweikert said, the president’s announcement appears to have gotten the attention of Mexican officials who were reportedly en route to Washington to discuss the threat.