Chairman Rambler urges community to halt Land Exchange efforts
By Sandra Rambler
San Carlos Apache
English and French
SAN CARLOS, Ariz. – On April 5, a letter was sent by Terry Rambler, Tribal Chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, to tribal members as well as surrounding communities near the San Carlos Apache Tribe and Chil’Chil Ba’goteel, also known as Oak Flat.
Chairman Rambler says, “We share something in common—clean water. Water is the lifeblood of our two communities. Without water, our communities have no future. I am writing to inform you that Congress is considering transferring federal lands to Resolution Copper Mine, LLC (“RCM”) for a project that will exhaust our region’s water supply. I hope that you will join me in opposing this dangerous project.”
“RCM is a subsidiary of mining giants Rio Tinto (United Kingdom) and BHP Billiton, Ltd. (Australia). Together they have spent close to $1 billion to lobby Congress to secure private ownership of more than 2,400 acres of Tonto National Forest lands to create one of the world’s largest and deepest block cave mines. This mining technique not only destroys the landscape, because of its extraordinary depth, it requires aggressive ground water pumping to keep underground tunnels from flooding. The bill, H.R. 687, is titled the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act.”
“Water is a vital issue because, unlike strip mining, the block cave method will require at least 20,000 acre-feet of water annually over a thirty-year period. That’s enough water for 180,000 people, water that the communities in our region depend upon.”
“Where will this water come from? In 2009, RCM claimed it was purchasing water and reclaiming contaminated waters in order ‘to build the needed water supplies for mining activities that are a full decade or more away.’ RCM identified one source of water as the Central Arizona Project (CAP). However, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has reported that demand for CAP water will soon outstrip supply.”
“L. Everett and Associates, an internationally recognized geology and hydrology firm, has begun to study the impact of the proposed block cave mine and concluded that the groundwater necessary for this operation is unsustainable, harmful to the region’s water supply, and threatens our surface water resources and our valuable riparian habitats.”
“The only other source of water for RCM’s project is our groundwater. RCM has been pumping contaminated mine water from the flooded, old Magma Mine shaft and water levels in the Magma shaft have declined nearly 2,000 feet. RCM’s pumping has caused the Queen Valley Homeowners Association’s water supply to fail to historic lows. Over time, RCM will deplete our surface water and groundwater, wiping our seeps, springs, streams and the perpetual pools that stock our aquifers.”
“Given these facts, it is unconscionable that H.R. 687 does not require RCM to disclose or perform hydrology studies on the impacts of groundwater pumping and hydrology on the regional water supply. RCM has ignored repeated requests for an independent agency to conduct these critical studies. Worse, H.R. 687 eliminates any study of the project, including impacts on our water supply, until the land is already exchanged and in private lands. Once the lands are transferred, federal laws will no longer protect the water or our interests.”
“We must tell Congress that, without water, our economy and communities will dry up and cease to exist. In the arid southwest, we cannot survive without a clean and dependable water supply. This bill does more than trade away our public land and devastate our landscape. By depleting and contaminating our precious water supply, it robs us of our future.”
“Call, write and email Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick and Congressman Paul Gosar and tell them that you oppose H.R. 687 and its devastating impacts on Southeast Arizona’s water supply. Demand answers to vital questions about our water before this bill is enacted.”
Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick can be reached at (202) 225-3361 or email her at https://kirkpatrick.house.gov/contact/email-me and her mailing address is 330 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515.” “Congressman Gosar can be reached at (202) 225-2315 or mail him at AZ04PGIMA@mail.house.gov and his mailing address is 504 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515.
For more information from the San Carlos Apache Tribe, Chairman Terry Rambler can be reached at (928) 475-2361 or at P.O. Box 0, San Carlos, Arizona, 85530.
Meanwhile, tribal members are continuously gathering at Chil’Chil Ba’goteel (Oak Flat) to gather acorn which is shelled and ground and prepared to serve as an Apache traditional meal at various Apache gatherings including holy ceremonies.
French translation by Christine Prat, thank you!