U.S. District Court Judge Alfredo Marquez ruled this week that the Army and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service significantly altered the flow of the San Pedro River because of groundwater pumping.
The lawsuit against the Army and Fish and Wildlife Service was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity — a group that also has pledged similar legal action to save the Verde River. The suit claimed the flow of the San Pedro has been significantly reduced as groundwater pumping in Sierra Vista and Fort Huachuca has increased proportionately.
Judge Marquez agreed, ruling that the military and wildlife service failed to protect the river and its environment.
What has happened with the San Pedro should send a strong warning signal to Yavapai County. Growth in the Prescott area has forced that community to look to the north to the Big Chino aquifer. As we all should know by now, Prescott is bound and determined to build a water pipeline from the Big Chino to provide an increased domestic water supply to its community.
For years, most geologists and hydrologists have claimed that the Big Chino is the source water for the Verde River.
Perennial rivers are rare in the desert Southwest. The Verde River, in fact, is one of the last such remaining rivers. There is historical evidence to strongly suggest its flow does not compare with that of years past, even without Prescott's groundwater pumping of the Big Chino.
Judge Marquez's ruling concerning the San Pedro River should be considered good news for the Verde. Excessive groundwater pumping does have a negative impact on the flow of a river ... and it should not be tolerated.