Monday, October 28, 2013

New Mine Waste Coming to Jerome, Arizona

The history of mining in Jerome Arizona has a checkered past.  Millions of dollars were earned by the mining companies and some of the towns (at least in Arizona) received a public building or two.  But the destruction of people and the environment carried a horrible toll.  
An open pit with a head frame half hidden behind shrubbery.
 Head frames were used to lower and raise miners from the
 88 miles of below-ground tunnels.
Myths, legends and a few factual stories have survived about the brothels, legendary madams, some of the saloons and epic fist and gun fights.  What is never questioned is why nothing has grown for sixty years on these piles of waste.

Mines in Jerome ceased operation in 1953.  The scale of these
 waste "layers" can be determined by the apparent size of
the 2-story houses at the lower right of the photograph above.
Despite airborne pollution (toxic dust) and ground water toxicity due to 60 years of rainfall percolating through these piles, mining may begin again in West Jerome .

NOTHING has grown on this waste material in 60 years.
If Cornerstone Metals, Inc. indeed comes to Jerome it may well find a mixed reception.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Price Will Provide Solution to Water Resources

I remember the surprise one day when I found that the local Safeway in Cottonwood was selling gallon jugs of water for less than it was being sold in Cleveland, OH (bottled, of course, in New York).

About that time I read Charles Bowden's Killing the Hidden Waters and realized I wasn't crazy...at least there was one other person thinking as I was.

Water is a diminishing resource and should be taxed or priced as such.

The small town of Clarkdale, Arizona, has restructured its water rates and found that usage dropped by 50%.

Growing population in the state is part of the problem and, candidly, I've thought endlessly for a solution of how one would control population in Arizona.

Part of the problem will have to rest on price or rate structure...not a popular solution these days.

Tax water use to a level that prohibits lush lawns in Phoenix, tax it to a level that prohibits economical establishment of cotton farms in southern parts of the state, tax it to the extent that makes stock/stock tanks uneconomical, tax it so you question flushing the toilet every time you pee.

Charge enough so that makes an 8,000 gallon swimming pool in Phoenix a true luxury
.
The first year or two I was out here, water wasn't an issue.  I've noticed, increasingly, that one water issue or another is becoming a factor in mining or, less so, the weather. 


Realistically, a water inventory for the state needs to be established and maybe the results will point the way to a solution.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Skies Remain Dangerously Blue

Jerome is a small town . . . its population somewhere under 500 . . . and it's forms of communication with its residents  borders on colloquial.  A sign in the post office asked residents to please conserve water because the overflow from storage tanks was running only intermittently.  When I drove past yesterday the overflow was dry.

Jerome is an old copper mining community that once boasted a population of 15,000.  With a current population of only 400-plus
the town is experiencing the initial indications of a water crisis.
Jerome's water comes from an aquifer beneath Cleopatra Hill, captured in 3 water storage tanks and gravity fed to the town below.  The aquifer is replenished by precipitation.

In the last 6 weeks there has been about 1/8 inch of rain, hardly enough to reach the aquifer let alone replenish it.  As I've said in previous posts, if you want to see what the desert will support, "Just look out your backdoor."  It isn't much, yet the tree planting, car washing, and yard/garden watering go unabated.

This on 3 - 10 inches of rain annually.