PHOENIX – Two expert scientists from Brown and Caldwell, a consulting firm in environmental matters, provided another side of the debate in the amount of water needed for the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA).
Brown and Caldwell experts Ann Redmond, a certified environmental professional in natural resource consulting; and Jeff Weaver, hydrologist/geologist, provided a report on their assessment of the Bureau of Land Management’s claim for water and determined the SPRNCA was not managed and water needs were overstated.
Redmond explained she had worked extensively in Florida on successful restorations of wetlands. Her career has taken her across the country and the ocean to Guam. She takes a long-term approach to mitigation efforts and considers a clear vision of a project essential to success.
A clear vision, as she put it, was lacking in the BLM’s resource management plan (RMP) currently in use as part of the Safford District RMP in 1989. She reviewed a number of the blossoming SPRNCA plans from 1989 to 1994 which sought to provide a roadmap to a successful follow through on the congressional order to protect and enhance the SPRNCA.
Questioned by attorney Bill Sullivan, representing Pueblo Del Sol Water Company and the city of Sierra Vista, she stated, “You have to think about the whole watershed and the likelihood of sustainability over time. It didn’t articulate a vision for the future or how much water is needed to sustain the SPRNCA.”
She continued and said the U.S. should develop a plan and should lay out objectives in a reach by reach basis from south to north. Sub-plans for each reach would be appropriate, given the different classifications: proper functioning and functional at risk conditions.
U.S. Department of Justice attorney David Negri objected to her testimony as some of her criticisms were not provided in her statement.
“It’s an undisclosed opinion,” he said.
Special Master Judge Mark Brain sustained the objection and said he would sort it all out when he reviews all the testimony given in the trial.
Negri began to discredit her testimony as she had not taken part in any federal government RMPs.
“So you have never worked for the BLM, National Park Service, National Forest Service?” he asked. “You have never helped develop a federal management plan?”
Redmond nodded in agreement. She had not participated in a federal plan.
But, she said, “I review all RMPs that come to me in Florida. We developed state resource management plans and were under inter-agency review.”
However, she reaffirmed her opinion, “You have to have the scientific data to back up the water rights claim. I don’t see it. There is no long-term vision or organizing principles for management. There is no way to scientifically determine how much water is needed.”
Once Negri, attorney Michael Foy of the Salt River Project, and attorney Joe Sparks, with the San Carlos Apache Tribe, were finished with their questions, Weaver was called to the stand right at the end of the day.
Tuesday, the defense will continue with Weaver.