Federal Government Denies Tombstone Residents Water
March 6, 2012 by Sam Rolley
Federal government bureaucracy is protecting wildlife near Tombstone, Ariz., at the expense of the health of town residents. As a result of the policy, Tombstone residents are being forced to bathe and drink water from ground wells — one of which contains arsenic.
Last summer a massive fire dubbed the Monument Fire that tore across Arizona damaged several pipelines that provided water to the town’s 1,500 residents and nearly 400,000 annual visitors. The Federal government has told town officials that they may not repair the waterlines because they are located in a wilderness area that would be damaged by mechanized equipment brought in for the job.
George Barnes, Tombstone’s city clerk and manager told The Daily Caller, “We began working with the Forest Service but then we realized and found what an incredible boondoggle that could be, even though we are very confident we have a special status because our rights there pre-existed the Forest Service and even the BLM [Bureau of Land Management]. We were there long before anything and all we are asking is to fix our stuff.”
After the fire Arizona Governor Jan Brewer declared the town under a state of emergency due to the water situation and issued $50,000 for the repair of the water lines because 50 to 80 percent of Tombstone’s water supply was provided via the pipelines. Town officials now say residents in the area only have a two-day water reserve at any given time and there is not enough available water to even combat structure fires.
The town and the Goldwater Institute — its Phoenix-based legal counsel — are waiting for a decision from U.S. District Court Judge Frank Zapata, who will rule on whether to compel the Forest Service to allow Tombstone to get up into the Huachuca Mountains and repair its water infrastructure.
“The Tombstone case is the ultimate showdown between state sovereignty and federal overreach,” Nick Dranias, a member of the Goldwater legal team told The Daily Caller. “The reason why I say that is the case involves the federal government, through the Forest Service, threatening the very existence of the historic city of Tombstone and threatening the literal health and safety of its residents and tourists.”