Arizona water battle pits feds against the state and developers

Credit: azstarnet.com
Credit: azstarnet.com

Environmentalists and the BLM are filing suit to block a housing development of 6,900 homes in a major Arizona water battle, saying federal water rights trump those of the state and developers. Hoo boy, this one has it all; Feds vs. the state, enviros vs. developers, private water rights vs. federal mandates – all made more complicated by Arizona’s archaic rules that treat ground water and surface water separately.

The lawsuits pit two longstanding legal traditions about water in Arizona against one another. The issue is: Can Arizona control groundwater pumping that could damage a river when the federal government has rights to its flow?

Those differences are so acute that a former longtime state water official, Herb Guenther, sees the dispute as a legal train wreck waiting to happen.

Tucson Arizona desert bobcat

This smallish bobcat was just outside on the patio here in Tucson. I saw a much bigger bobcat yesterday but didn’t have time to get a photo. We’re at the in-laws while Sue recuperates from her cornea transplant surgery. Wildlife is plentiful here; roadrunners, javelinas, rattlers, hawks, scorpions, desert tortoise, quail, and of course coyote.

But this is the Arizona desert. It was 105 today and the monsoons are coming soon. I have great respect for anything that can survive here, whether it be mountain lion or Apache.

Actor Tommy Lee Jones owns several ranches in Texas and is an expert horseman. In a 2008 interview, he described the land.

‘There’s nothing living in those mountains that won’t sting or bite or stab you. If you molest the plant, the plant will spike you. If you molest the animal, the animal will bite you. If you disrespect the country, it will cripple you. But I am very comfortable there. It’s my home.’

This is equally true of the Arizona desert.  I love deserts. But they demand your respect. Or else.

Immigration ruling Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Gov. Jan Brewer, others are clueless

I’m in Phoenix now. Local media and others are braying about how the Supreme Court decision on immigration was somehow a partial victory for anti-immigration zealots. It wasn’t.

Obama rescinded 287(g) agrrements immediately after the court’s decision. This means that Pima, Pinal and Yavapai county sheriff’s offices in Arizona can not enforce immigration laws because they are no longer deputized to do so by the federal government.

Sheriff Joe can wheeze all he wants about how he’ll continue to enforce state laws but the simple fact is only the federal government now has now has arrest power on immigration and has rescinded that power from Arizona sheriff’s departments.