06.13.2012 2

Tombstone, AZ residents forced to use shovels and hand tools to fix water supply

Photo credit: Tombstone Chamber of CommerceBy Rebekah Rast — Residents of Tombstone, Ariz., have received some reprieve from the federal government in regards to its ongoing water crisis.  The town’s water system was severely damaged in wildfires last year and residents are just now able to make some necessary repairs.

Why the long wait? Tombstone’s water supply sits on U.S. Forest Service land and a 1964 law states no heavy machinery is allowed near the system.  Furthermore, also on this federally owned land perches a pair of Mexican spotted owls, a threatened species.

After almost a year of asking for authorization, filing a lawsuit and dealing with animal protection rights, Tombstone now has the proper permits to fix its water system.  But there is a catch.

U.S. Forest Service will still not allow any heavy machinery or trucks onto the land, so volunteer residents armed with saws, shovels, horses and other hand tools made their way up to the water lines for the repair work.

Tombstone City Manager George Barnes explains to the Green Valley News and Sun that the “shovel brigade workers faced a ‘hard, two-mile hike’ to reach the Gardner Spring.”  This shovel brigade took off last Saturday where temperatures approached 100 degrees.

In response to the ridiculousness of Tombstone residents being unable to fix their own water supply, threatening their own health with a lack of clean water, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) stated the need for his Emergency Water Supply Restoration Act.

In testimony before the House Committee on Natural Resources, he said, “the Emergency Water Supply Restoration Act affirms that when there is a disaster affecting water supplies, the health and safety of the American people comes first.”

At least for now the 1,500 residents of Tombstone will finally have clean, fresh water—as long as the people forced to wield shovels and hand tools can do the job.

To read more on the battle between the U.S. Forest Service and Tombstone, Ariz., see: This town ain’t big enough for the government and its people

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) and NetRightDaily.com.  You can follow her on twitter at @RebekahRast.

Copyright © 2008-2020 Americans for Limited Government