Adequate and clean water are vital to life in Southern Arizona, as are a job and the ability to feed your family. I say this as a 24-year Southern Arizona resident, and as one who has the honor to work for one of the most responsible companies in the nation.
I'm referring to Rosemont Copper, headquartered right here in Tucson.
Rosemont Copper is setting new standards for environmental stewardship, community leadership and employment.
That's why it frustrates so many here to see those zealously focused on stopping Rosemont at all costs - those willing to kill the jobs that will help sustain our economy for more than a generation by resorting to fear mongering and innuendo based upon incomplete or incorrect information about Rosemont.
Recently a group consisting of the same few familiar Rosemont Copper opponents, and yet sporting a new name - the "Community Water Coalition" - is attempting to scare people with the same tired tactics.
It's important to revisit the facts.
Rosemont is setting new standards for water conservation and water planning. By using technological advances, Rosemont has developed a plan that uses half the water of conventional mining on a pound-per-pound basis.
Contrary to statements made by opponents, mines are subject to rules and regulations of the 1980 Groundwater Code.
As part of the code, each Active Management Area (AMA) has a five-member, governor-appointed Groundwater Users Advisory Council that provides recommendations on the ground-water management programs, plans and policies within the management area.
These management plans reflect the evolution of the Groundwater Code and contain rigorous management requirements for agricultural, municipal and industrial water users, including mines.
Rosemont exceeds all standards set out in the management plans in terms of water management and conservation.
Before we've taken any water, Rosemont has used existing groundwater programs to recharge 45,000 acre-feet of water into the Tucson AMA - enough for 105,000 homes for one year. This amount represents approximately eight years of Rosemont's permitted water use.
The largest amount of drawdown will be in the vicinity of Rosemont's open pit at the end of mining. As you move away from the pit, those changes in groundwater elevation are reduced to less than a foot, which is less than the natural groundwater fluctuation. Over time impacts do not increase but come into equilibrium.
We are dedicated to protecting well owners. Rosemont has offered an unprecedented well-protection plan - not a buyout - to local well owners along Highway 83, similar to a program initiated near Sahuarita.
Rosemont recently received an aquifer protection permit that assures water quality at wells along the boundary of the operations. This means there is no threat from pollutants in the Tucson aquifer.
Mines throughout the nation have become major tourist attractions. Already tourists and researchers are visiting Rosemont, and we have given more than 6,000 tours over the last five years. I would venture that every one of those people either bought something or ate something, income counted in our county's tourism figures.
Rosemont Copper has proposed an operation that is sustainable, protective of the environment and uses the best technology available to provide 2,100 people with ongoing employment, tax dollars to help support our infrastructure and schools, as well as innumerable additional opportunities to many others. I, and the thousands of employees, contractors, consultants and supporters have worked hard to make this project a model for the future.
Kathy Arnold is vice president of environmental and regulatory affairs for the Rosemont Copper Co.