"Arizona counties have no legal authority to control groundwater use"
Wednesday, January 25, 2006 Forwarded for distribution from Earl Engelhardt, Kingman AZ.
IMMEDIATE CITIZEN RESPONSE NECESSARY!
You have heard from our local representatives
-- and this from the Kingman Daily Miner...
The Sunday edition of the 'Kingman Daily Miner' had a front page article with the heading, "Water supply questions not a county issue." In the lengthy article there is a paragraph which says:
Begin Quote: "The answer will not come from Mohave County, County Manager Ron Walker said. Arizona counties have no legal authority to control groundwater use, he said." Further in the article Ron states, "The County has no means or expertise for water monitoring." Walker said. "Unlike most cities that are in the water business, Arizona counties are not. Arizona counties have no legal authority to control groundwater usage, as groundwater is not a government/public asset." End Quote
Arizona Public Interest Research Group is urging state leaders to pass laws to ensure that all Arizonans have a clean, lasting supply of water derived from a local source. Developers must stop building beyond the limits of our water supply. Due to Arizona's rapidly increasing population, existing water supplies may become insufficient to meet the demands of people, farms, and our environment.
Tell your state representative to act now to ensure our water needs can stand up to our state's current and future growth. Arizona’s water future depends on immediate changes to our groundwater laws! Current laws allow developers to erect huge subdivisions without adequate water supplies, dangerously straining Arizona’s water resources.
Arizona Public Interest Research Group (Arizona PIRG) is working to make sure Arizona stops building beyond the limits of our water supply. Please send the email below (call or write) to the Arizona Legislature telling them to protect our water. If you would like to know more about our water program go to our website at Arizona PIRG.
Thank you very much,
Lela Prashad, Public Interest Advocate
Arizona PIRG (Arizona Public Interest Research Group)
130 N. Central Ave. Ste. 311
Phoenix, AZ 85004
I am concerned that Arizona is building beyond the limits of a sustainable water supply and is putting our future and quality of life at risk. All Arizonans deserve a local, clean supply of water, but in most of the state, there are no assurances that a family will have an adequate supply of water.
It is unbelievable that in over 80 percent of Arizona, developers can build large subdivisions with hundreds of thousands of houses—even if the state declares the water supply of the region to be inadequate.
With a rapidly growing population, living in a desert means it is even more critical to grow responsibly. I believe that development should only occur where there is enough water to support it.
Now is the time to take action to protect our water for Arizona’s future. Please support legislation that ensures an adequate local, clean supply of water for all Arizonans.
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Free numbers for D.C Capitol Switchboard (they'll connect you to any Congressperson, or give you their address):
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Senator John McCain (R- AZ) 202-224-2235 Fax-202-228-2862
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Rep. Jim Kolbe (R - 08) 202-225-2542 Fax-202-225-0378
Tell Gonzales To
Members of the audience stand up and turn their backs on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, rear, as he speaks at Georgetown University Law School Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2006.
Answering the Bush administration's critics, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Tuesday that warrantless surveillance is critical to prevent another terrorist attack within the United States.
"Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither" -- a paraphrase of a quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin -- had been scrawled in capital letters on a sign that required four protesters to hold it up. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
safety, our liberty, depends upon preserving the Constitution of the United
States as our Fathers made it inviolate. The people of the United States are the
rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts, not to overthrow the
Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” - Abraham
BY DAVID MCLEMORE
The Dallas Morning News
DALLAS - A West Texas standoff along the Rio Grande between U.S. law enforcement officers and heavily armed Mexican drug smugglers in military-style clothing prompted congressional demands Tuesday for an international investigation and a call for deployment of U.S. troops to the border.
The incident, which occurred Monday on U.S. soil at an isolated river crossing about 50 miles east of El Paso, Texas, is the latest incident involving armed incursions along the U.S. border with Mexico.
And it comes less than a week after Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff called a California newspaper's account of such border incursions "overblown."
The incident Monday involved an encounter between two Hudspeth County Sheriff's Department deputies and three Department of Public Safety troopers and 10 heavily armed drug smugglers.
A spokesman for Mexico's Foreign Ministry said Mexican military personnel had nothing to do with the incident and suggested the trespassers may have been drug traffickers wearing military-style gear.
criminal conspiracy that destroys America
by Doug Thompson
Jan 25, 2006, 01:26
Sadly, the President of the United States is a criminal. In fact, he should be arrested, tried and sentenced to life in prison as a repeat offender.
He is a war criminal who led this nation into an illegal conflict based on lies. His criminal conduct in the invasion of Iraq has led to the deaths of more than 2,000 American military men and women and countless thousands of Iraqi civilians.
He ripped the Constitution to shreds, ordering the National Security Agency, the Pentagon and other government agencies to spy on American citizens.
His administration trampled basic American freedoms, creating a police state through the Gestapo tactics of the Department of Homeland Security and the rights-robbing USA Patriot Act.
He lied to the American people about his close relationship with corrupt GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, claiming he didn’t know the man who raised more than $100,000 for his campaign and visited the White House more than 200 times in his first year in office as well as trips to the ranch in Crawford, Texas.
He ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to withhold information about dangerous toxins dumped into the air over Manhattan when terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center.
His vice president met secretly with the CEOs of America’s top energy companies, cutting deals that gave those companies record profits while ripping off consumers at the gas pump.
Bush’s crimes against the Constitution and the American people began the day he took office and continue today. Each day brings new revelations of abuse of power, evasion of the law and disregard for basic rights of privacy.
Under Bush’s watch, the fears of George Orwell became all too real. The NSA routinely monitors phone calls of American citizens. The Defense Advance Research Projects Agency tracks routine travel and financial activities of Americans. The Pentagon sends infiltrators to spy on groups whose only crime is disagreement with the Iraq war or the other Draconian actions of the Bush administration.
America is now a totalitarian state ruled by a fascist dictator who hides behind phony claims that he is a "wartime president" who must usurp the Constitution to protect us from ourselves.
Ironically, the "wartime president" is, in reality, a coward who hid out in the Texas Air National Guard to avoid his own service in wartime, a cardboard cowboy who sends others to die while he hides behind a legion of Secret Service agents who no doubt gag at the thought of taking a bullet for such a pathetic excuse for a leader.
But who protects us from the real enemy of freedom? That enemy resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, backed by a party that puts partisanship above patriotism, power above freedom and political expediency above justice.
I’ve come to the sad conclusion that the President of the United States is a madman, a raving lunatic driven by an insane lust for power, given to frequent outbursts of temper and out-of-control tantrums.
Bush has plunged this nation into a deepening Constitutional crisis, one that demands immediate action if we are to save what was once a great nation.
The last President to precipitate such a crisis, Richard M. Nixon, failed to destroy this nation because Congress, led by an opposition party, stepped up and took the actions necessary. But today’s Congress is ruled by criminally-complicit thugs who share Bush’s fanatical views.
Together, Bush and his Republican cronies in Congress have led America to ruin.
Unfortunately, too many in this country have sat on their asses and let it happen.
Stephen Harper: Canada will defend its sovereignty
By Francis Harris in Washington
Canada's new Conservative prime minister, accused by opponents of cringing pro-Americanism, has fallen out with Washington.
Just three days after his election, Stephen Harper attacked statements by the American ambassador suggesting that Canada's iceberg-strewn Arctic seaways are "neutral waters".
Stephen Harper: Canada will defend its sovereignty
Within hours the Conservative leader raised the issue with journalists, although he had not been asked to comment. Emphasising his new government's commitment to increase defence expenditure in Canada's Arctic, Mr Harper said: "I was very clear about this in the election campaign. The United States defends its sovereignty. The Canadian government will defend our sovereignty."
He continued: "It is the Canadian people we get our
mandate from, not the ambassador of the United States."
Canadians interpreted the Tory leader's words as a signal to the public that he would be a dogged negotiator for Canadian interests with President George W Bush's administration.
"It let him show he's tough on the Americans," said Scott Anderson, editor of the conservative Ottawa Citizen.
But there are also serious issues at play now that the once-frozen waters of the North-West Passage are opening up for shipping and oil exploration.
Mr Harper has pledged to build three armed ice-breakers to underline Canada's claim to the waters running between the innumerable Arctic islands.
He also intends to construct a deep water port at the Baffin Island settlement of Iqaluit and to deploy powerful sensors on the ocean floor to detect incursions by foreign navies.
American, French and Royal Navy submarines are all believed regularly to use waters that Canada says it owns.
The American ambassador, David Wilkins, emphasised when he spoke that he was merely reiterating a longstanding policy on the Arctic. "Our position is very consistent. We agree to disagree. We don't recognise Canada's claims to the waters.
"There's no reason... to say, 'There's a problem that's occurring and we've got to do something about it'," he said.
But experts believe the days when Canada and America could bury the issue are almost at an end.
Ships have begun to navigate the waters of the North-West Passage as the ice recedes. The route would cut 4,500 miles off the passage through the Panama Canal.
It has been speculated that Canada will one day out-produce Saudi Arabia once new fields are discovered in the Arctic.
January 26, 2006 Jon Shirek
A government photo shows Caitlin Childs protesting.
The ACLU of Georgia released copies of
government files on Wednesday that illustrate the extent to which the FBI,
the DeKalb County Division of Homeland Security and other government
agencies have gone to compile information on Georgians suspected of being
threats simply for expressing controversial opinions.
Two documents relating to anti-war and anti-government protests, and a vegan rally, prove the agencies have been "spying" on Georgia residents unconstitutionally, the ACLU said. (Related: ACLU Complaint -- PDF file)
For example, more than two dozen government surveillance photographs show 22-year-old Caitlin Childs of Atlanta, a strict vegetarian, and other vegans picketing against meat eating, in December 2003. They staged their protest outside a HoneyBaked Ham store on Buford Highway in DeKalb County.
An undercover DeKalb County Homeland Security detective was assigned to conduct surveillance of the protest and the protestors, and take the photographs. The detective arrested Childs and another protester after he saw Childs approach him and write down, on a piece of paper, the license plate number of his unmarked government car.
"They told me if I didn't give over the piece of paper I would go to jail and I refused and I went to jail, and the piece of paper was taken away from me at the jail and the officer who transferred me said that was why I was arrested," Childs said on Wednesday.
The government file lists anti-war protesters in Atlanta as threats, the ACLU said. The ACLU of Georgia accuses the Bush administration of labeling those who disagree with its policy as disloyal Americans.
"We believe that spying on American citizens for no good reason is fundamentally un-American, that it's not the place of the goverment or the best use of resources to spy on its own citizens and we want it to stop. We want the spies in our government to pack their bags, close up their notebooks, take their cameras home and not engage in the spying anymore," Gerald Weber of the ACLU of Georgia said during a news conference.
"We have heard of not a single, government surveillance of a pro-war group," Weber said. "And I doubt we will ever hear of a single surveillance of a pro-war group."
The ACLU wants Congress and the courts to order government agencies, including the FBI, to stop unconstitutional surveillance.
Weber said the ACLU of Georgia may sue the government, in order to define, once and for all, what unconstitutional surveillance is in a post-911 America.
The FBI in Atlanta declined to comment. According to the Associated Press, FBI spokesman Bill Carter in Washington, D.C. said that all FBI investigations are conducted in response to information that the people being investigated were involved in or might have information about crimes.
As for Caitlin Childs' protest against meat eating, the files obtained by the ACLU include the DeKalb County Homeland Security report on the surveillance of Childs and the others. The detective wrote that he ordered Childs to give him the piece of paper on which she had written his license tag number, telling her that he did not want her or anyone else to have the tag number of his undercover vehicle.
The detective did not comment in his report about why his license tag number was already visible to the public.
The detective wrote that Childs was "hostile, uncooperative and boisterous toward the officers."
Childs said today that the agents shouldn't have been there in the first place, squelching legal dissent.
"We have the right to gather and protest and speak out."
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
DEVELOPERS CASHING IN ON WEAK
The Arizona Republic
Jun. 27, 2005 12:00 AM
Sprouting from the desert about 40 miles north of Kingman, jutting up amid sagebrush and a scattering of squat Joshua trees, is a sign that looks like it lost its way. It claims to mark the corner of Boundary and Imperial drives. Up a gentle slope are signs for Safari Drive and, in the other direction, Big Horn Drive.
But there's not a stucco wall or red tile roof in sight, much less a streetlight or a paved road to go with the signs.
This is Lake Mead Ranchos, or it will be when buyers of the 1-acre lots begin building homes. It's far from traffic and polluted air, and the views are spectacular, framed by the ridgeline that guards Lake Mead itself.
Oh, and one other thing: Buy a house here and you're on your own for water.
Selling dry lots, whose buyers are responsible for their own water and have to truck it in if they can't drill a well, is not only legal under Arizona's water laws, it is increasingly fueling development in the state's fastest-growing rural areas.
The California-based developer of Lake Mead Ranchos sold about 500 home sites without providing a permanent water source. Buyers will have to haul water or have it hauled in for them.
"Sometimes it's a concern," said Ron Freeman, the developer, who still has other parcels he plans to sell. "But it's a balancing act, a trade-off. Most people looking here want to have room. They want to not hear the people talking next door. Sometimes, it's a little more work, a little more expense. But these people go there because it feels good."
Developers and landowners routinely take advantage of Arizona's weak regulation of rural water and growth, resulting in the construction of hundreds and, eventually, thousands of homes that couldn't be built in the state's major metropolitan areas.
Those areas are covered by the 1980 Groundwater Management Act, which applies to about 20 percent of Arizona's geographic area, including Greater Phoenix and Tucson. In the rest of the state, less-stringent laws make it easy for individual landowners to build small subdivisions that rely on unmonitored, unproven wells and allow larger developers to sell homes without guaranteeing a long-term supply of water.
The potential for new growth to drain resources is significant: One prominent Las Vegas home builder wants to develop five master-planned communities near Kingman; with more than 127,000 new homes, they would double Mohave County's current population.
That worries many people, who fear the demand on largely unknown water supplies and a failure to address the issue will crush growing communities.
"The economic viability of rural Arizona is at risk if we don't do something," said Rep. Tom O'Halleran, R-Sedona.
Measuring the cost to rural communities is difficult because the most serious consequences, water shortages or water-quality problems linked to a proliferation of septic tanks, may not surface for years. Meanwhile, most towns and counties encourage growth, just as their urban counterparts do, but without the protection provided by groundwater laws.
'INADEQUATE WATER': Developers pay no heed
The chief protection is the assured water-supply rule that is applied in Maricopa, Pima, Pinal and Santa Cruz counties and in part of Yavapai County. It's a simple rule: Prove that a subdivision has access to a sustainable water source for 100 years or don't build.
That provision nearly didn't make it into the 1980 laws but stands now as "the most significant part of the code," said Kathleen Ferris, an attorney and former legislative staff member who helped write the laws and revisited the issue last year for the Arizona Policy Forum, a Phoenix-based research and education group. It makes good sense, she said, and protects home buyers.
In rural Arizona, builders still must submit plans to the state Department of Water Resources for a determination of whether the water supplies would last 100 years. The difference is, if the state finds the proposed source inadequate, builders can ignore the finding and build anyway.
And they do.
A review of state records by The Arizona Republic found that 60, or 35 percent, of 171 applications processed by the state's Assured and Adequate Water Supply Office since 2001 were returned to the applicant with an "inadequate water supply" finding. There were more than 4,100 prospective homes included in these applications. In 2004 alone, 45 percent of the proposals lacked proof of a long-term water supply.
Yet most of the projects proceeded or will go ahead. That doesn't mean there won't be water when the homes are built or that the wells won't flow for decades. But it also is possible that a future homeowner will be forced to look elsewhere for water.
The law requires the developer to disclose the state's finding in the public report issued by the state Real Estate Department, but only on the initial sale. If the land changes hands again, the seller isn't obligated to tell the next buyer that there's no guarantee of water. Once the Department of Water Resources issues the first and only finding, "there's no enforcement capability from this agency," said Doug Dunham, who oversees the agency's Assured and Adequate Water Supply Office.
The second or third buyer could ask either the Water Resources or Real Estate departments for information, but the burden is on the buyer.
The law's loopholes are well-known. Dunham said an increasing number of applications arrive with no backup material at all. The builders simply submit the paperwork and fees and await the conclusions, which allow construction to move ahead.
AMBITIOUS PLANS: Big projects, unknown water
In some cases, developers don't even try to hide what they are doing. In February, Ron Freeman Investments, the West Hills, Calif., developer behind Lake Mead Ranchos north of Kingman, submitted an application for review.
Attached was this note: "I am applying for the letter to show the water supply to be 'inadequate.' I am advising all purchasers that this is a water-haul area, that the water for wells is too deep to even consider digging." The sales brochure includes this information, as does the public report issued by the Real Estate Department.
"Some developers create their own water companies. I don't," Freeman said in an interview. "I spend many thousands of dollars bringing in power. That's the hard part."
Nearby communities or private water companies will likely expand if subdivisions begin to fill in, he said. In the meantime, water-filling stations and hauling companies can supply residents.
But it's not the 500-lot subdivisions like Lake Mead Ranchos that will put resources at risk; it's the 10,000 homes that could be built just outside the Prescott city limits and the hundreds, if not thousands, of proposed homes near Chino Valley, Cottonwood and unincorporated areas near Sedona. Cochise County officials expect a similar burst of development near Benson.
And nothing so far compares with what may happen in Mohave County, where as many as 200,000 homes could be built over several decades. One reason for the rush is the shortage of available land on the Nevada side of the Colorado River. Developers want to build bedroom communities for people willing to commute to Las Vegas.
Mohave County Planner Kevin Davidson said it's possible there won't be as many homes built as lots sold. Some people are buying land as an investment, and he suspects many lots will remain vacant indefinitely. But there are other projects in the county that proven developers are planning:
• Las Vegas-based Leonard Mardian won approval from Mohave County to build a 21,000-acre master-planned community in the White Hills area northwest of Kingman. Almost 35,000 homes for more than 80,000 people could be built.
• Rhodes Homes, another Las Vegas builder, filed plans for five master-planned communities, varying in size from about 9,500 homes to more than 46,000. In all, the company wants to build 127,874 homes, mostly between Kingman and a new bridge that will span the Colorado River below Hoover Dam.
The state has not yet determined whether these projects have adequate water. Rhodes hired Arizona's former chief hydrologist, Greg Wallace, to help prove that the area can sustain the new homes, businesses and golf courses.
Some earlier studies suggested there are significant reserves in the area, but the state maintains that not enough information is available to know for sure.
"There's not a lot of data up there," said Tom Whitmer, water resources planning manager for the Department of Water Resources. "That makes it difficult. We don't know a lot about the depth of the water yet."
WILDCAT SUBDIVISIONS: A way to bypass zoning laws
Planned subdivisions that undergo a review give state and local officials some idea of what to expect as new homes are built. "Wildcat subdivisions," which legally exploit a loophole in the law to avoid reviews and zoning laws, offer no such hints. Those subdivisions, small developments that are built when parcels are split into five or fewer lots, have flourished in rural Arizona, from Pima and Cochise counties up through Yavapai and Mohave counties.
From a planner's or water manager's perspective, wildcat projects, or "lot splits" as they are known, can be a greater threat to resources than subdivisions built without an adequate-water certificate from the state. The latter at least must comply with rules about streets and utilities.
Subdivision laws don't apply to parcels split into five or fewer lots. In many cases, the streets aren't paved and homes are hooked to septic tanks, which can begin to seep into the groundwater over time. Water is often supplied from unmonitored wells that draw on the regional water supply at an unknown rate. In some areas, a private water co-operative provides water, but even those can operate with an unmonitored well.
Lot splits also tend to occur in clusters; a 640-acre parcel can be split by different owners until it yields more than 300 2-acre lots, creating a wildcat subdivision as big as one that is regulated.
"In Arizona, it's buyer beware," said Kenneth Spedding, director of community services for Yavapai County.
Lot-split subdivisions have mushroomed in that county, where wide swaths of undeveloped private property remain available for sale. In 2004, landowners splitting parcels on their own created more than 6,000 lots. Spedding is projecting more than 7,000 will be created this year.
The county examined its records in detail three years ago and found more than 2,000 home sites created by lot-splitters, compared with about 200 submitted as part of a formal subdivision. Spedding said the 10-1 ratio hasn't changed.
"Some folks don't want to live in a formal-type subdivision," he said. "The lot splits create different living opportunities for folks and help with affordability."
ON THEIR OWN: Buyers are vulnerable
But lot splits create hardship for homeowners and the county when there's trouble. The county can't maintain roads, can't build infrastructure and can't help someone when a storm washes out a long, gravel driveway. Lot splits also offer little consumer protection, which means a buyer can buy land and not find out until later that it lacks services.
Without those protections written into law, many home buyers could be risking their futures without knowing all the facts. For example, few of about two dozen Chino Valley-area residents recently interviewed seemed aware of the state protections or lack of them. Seeking a country lifestyle, most bought homes with the understanding that they would have to drill wells or hook up to small water systems.
But they didn't know, or hadn't even thought about, how long those supplies might last. One homeowner lamented that the surge of new wells in the area had caused water levels to drop, forcing him to drill deeper. Everyone else was nervous about the potentially negative effect that the area's growth would have on the water supply.
Seb and Vivian Garote and Rod and Carol Crider are typical.
The Garotes, who used to live in Scottsdale, bought a home about five years ago in Chino Valley, where lot splits carve up the landscape like a vast checkerboard. They're still waiting for the roads to get paved. But after a shaky start, the small private water company that serves them keeps the taps running, although they pay considerably more than they did in Scottsdale.
They understand that although water seems plentiful now, that could change, and they are uneasy about the growth. "We hear about all the new houses that are supposed to be going in," Vivian said. "I don't know about that."
The Criders bought a house in Paulden a little over five years ago, leaving Phoenix for a quieter existence. Since then, they have watched their corner of northern Yavapai County fill with more home buyers seeking the same rural lifestyle.
They drilled their own well and haven't had trouble with water yet. But they see the signs advertising new subdivisions and have heard the news that Prescott bought a nearby ranch with plans to drill wells on it and export the water to the city. That, Carol said, has folks on edge, fearful of what will happen to their community.
"I wish Prescott would put a limit on their growth," Rod said. "Soon."
But cities and towns see the spread of unregulated subdivisions through wary eyes, aware that if residents served by wells or private co-ops run out of water, they'll look to the nearest municipal government for help.
From the roof of the Prescott Valley Town Hall, it's easy to see how that could happen. Just beyond the town limits, not even half a mile in some cases, lies a wide expanse of lot-split homes. They're built on larger lots, as required by Yavapai County, so it's easy to distinguish them from subdivisions in Prescott Valley.
"It's a real challenge," said Larry Tarkowski, Prescott Valley's town manager. "There's a very large share of groundwater consumed by those wells. They're out there pumping water, but we don't know for how long."
US plans to 'fight
the net' revealed
By Adam Brookes?
BBC Pentagon correspondent
A newly declassified document gives a fascinating glimpse into the US military's plans for "information operations" - from psychological operations, to attacks on hostile computer networks.
As the world turns networked, the Pentagon is calculating the military opportunities that computer networks, wireless technologies and the modern media offer.
From influencing public opinion through new media to designing "computer network attack" weapons, the US military is learning to fight an electronic war.