Regardless of the fact that Fort Huachuca has been at “net-zero” water consumption for almost a decade and that millions have been spent by Sierra Vista and Cochise County to construct recharge infrastructure, Robin Silver would like nothing more than the complete depopulation of southeast Arizona.
He’s expressed that desire for years.
Silver, the co-founder of the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity, has filed yet another lawsuit to “protect” the San Pedro River. This time his target is Fort Huachuca and his accusation is that the local post hasn’t made any effort to “control devastating amounts of groundwater pumping from the fort’s off-post activities.”
We will let the courts decide the merits of Dr. Silver’s latest legal action.
What we can say with confidence is that the fort is considered a model installation for its water conservation efforts. Numerous military officials and politicians have said as much for years. If you don’t believe what they are saying, consider the biological opinion issued in 2014 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which conducted a lengthy study measuring the impact of the fort on the San Pedro and determined that the post does not present a threat to endangered species in and around the river.
Consider also the millions that have been contributed by The Nature Conservancy, The Walton Foundation and other organizations to purchase land near the San Pedro and construct recharging infrastructure that captures storm water and pumps it directly into the river aquifer.
Sierra Vista’s Environmental Operations Park is a shining example of the city’s efforts to reduce the impact of groundwater pumping on the river. Plans for construction of yet another recharge facility on the city’s northwest side will continue the conservation effort and will be the largest volume of water to be restored to the aquifer.
None of this matters to Silver, his local followers or the scores of attorneys who are employed at the Center. Filing lawsuits keeps this cabal of lawyers and conservationists relevant to those contributing money to environmental groups and it has proven to be profitable in the past when the federal government has reimbursed the organization for actions against federal agencies.
Most of what Silver’s latest lawsuit alleges appears to be “old potatoes.” It is facts and figures from years ago, of which very little is relevant to the successful efforts of the fort, the city and the county in recent years to recharge and maintain the San Pedro.
At every turn Silver and the Center for Biological Diversity have sought to obstruct responsible economic development in and around Sierra Vista. Rather than provide leadership on environmental issues and work with the community and Fort Huachuca, Silver and the Center have consistently desired the role of adversary.
We hope they fail.