An environmental group plans to sue the military and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the threatened San Pedro River. The Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity claims Fort Huachuca's expansion is hurting the river's water table and its species diversity.
TUCSON An environmental group plans to sue the military and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the threatened San Pedro River. The Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity claims Fort Huachuca's expansion is hurting the river's water table and its species diversity.
The environmental group filed an 83-page notice of intent Thursday in anticipation of another lawsuit against the Army post. A string of others have been filed by activists over the years.
A fort spokeswoman said she couldn't comment on the center's notice, which gives federal officials 60 days to respond before a lawsuit can be filed.
She did note, however, that the fort has taken steps to reduce its water consumption, including use of waterless urinals and low-flow shower heads.
"We're strong stewards of the environment here. We're a leader not only in the Army, but in the Department of Defense," spokeswoman Tanja Linton said.
The San Pedro begins in Sonora, Mexico, and runs 140 miles north to the Gila River at Winkelman.
Its cottonwood and willow forests provide habitat for hundreds of bird species.
Scientists say flows in the San Pedro have lowered in recent decades as groundwater pumping has increased around Sierra Vista and snatched subsurface water before it reaches the river.
That's prompted a string of lawsuits from activists who fear the San Pedro will dry up like the Santa Cruz River.
Fort Huachuca is "expanding their activity in excess of their progress," said Dr. Robin Silver of the Center for Biological Diversity. "The result is increasing peril to the river."
The environmental group's notice argues that the San Pedro's flow during the driest times of the year has further shriveled since Fish and Wildlife wrote a biological opinion in 2002.
The opinion said 54 percent of the 64,655 people living in the watershed were tied to Fort Huachuca, so the facility was responsible for 54 percent of the area's water use, including consumption by private contractors, military families and others who live or work off-post.
Source: Associated Press