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News Release: for immediate release May 10, 2005

Center for Biological Diversity
Sierra Club – Rincon Group
Center for Environmental Connections
Tucsonans for Quality of Life
Southwestern Biological Institute

Tucson conservationists say ‘NO’ to water bonds

Bad proposal on May 17 ballot would be a blank check for bureaucrats and politicians to expand water system to fuel more urban sprawl.

News Conference on top of ‘A’ Mountain today at 2pm.

Daniel R. Patterson, Desert Ecologist, CBD 520.623.5252 x306
Rob Kulakofsky, CEC 520.623.3874

TUCSON – Prominent conservationists announced today they are urging voters to say ‘NO’ on May 17 to the City of Tucson’s proposed $142,000,000 water expansion bond measures. Just five years ago voters approved $124,000,000 for water projects.

Some good reasons Tucson voters should say ‘NO’ include:

The bonds would create debt to fund expansion of the water system to use much more Colorado River water (Central Arizona Project, CAP). That use would fuel more urban sprawl which would kill wildlife and diminish our quality of life. It would make it much easier for developers to misleadingly claim a 100 year water supply in order to get permits.

The city’s map for this one-sided proposal shows that this debt is designed primarily to expand water for sprawl on the fringes of the city, and to soak all ratepayers for the cost.

Treated wastewater is the only water in the Santa Cruz River near Tucson, and it is targeted to be ‘reclaimed’ for golf courses and lawns, harming the public-interest for river habitat restoration, and moving the city toward a ‘toilet to tap’ system.

“Water bureaucrats and politicians want you to pay so they can please developers, but voters should say ‘NO’ on May 17,” said Daniel R. Patterson, Desert Ecologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The city’s unfair proposal is badly flawed, lacking checks & balances. It would increase debt and costs, and hurt water quality by pumping more bad CAP water from the shrinking and imperiled Colorado River.” He adds, “This unethical proposal is not about serving current residents, but about pumping a lot more bad CAP water to fuel urban sprawl and harm Tucson’s quality of life. Urban sprawl doesn’t just happen, water expansions like this make it happen.”

There are positive and fair alternatives. Conservationists recommend and support rainwater harvesting, stronger conservation, urbanization boundaries, and impact fees to discourage sprawl and make development pay for itself. Sprawl development doesn’t just happen, proposals like this help make it happen.

The city did not work with local conservationists in preparing the bond package. Had they done so, a fair proposal would have likely emerged with more public support. Suspiciously, the city decided to not print a ‘publicity pamphlet,’ common for local elections so interested parties can communicate to voters, forcing citizens to turn to the media.


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