Mine pipeline could dry up Leupp wells
By CYNDY COLE
Sun Staff Reporter
December 3, 2006
from the aquifer near Leupp to a reopened Black Mesa
Mine would help restore hundreds of jobs and millions
of dollars in annual tribal revenues.
But it will
come with a social and environmental cost, according
to a new federal impact study.
Navajo families in the path of the new pipeline would
need to be relocated; (sic)
south of Leupp could see their wells fail; (sic)
fish in nearby creeks could have a tougher time surviving
the dry season.
to supply the equivalent of 18,000 households annually
would be piped to Black Mesa and the Mohave Generating
Station in Laughlin, Nev., under this proposal.
be on top of the 24,000 additional households the city
of Flagstaff hopes to supply with water pumped from
the same area by 2050.
the Coconino Aquifer is vast, there are some anticipated
impacts to shallow wells near Leupp, according to a
draft environmental impact statement by the federal
Office of Surface Mining.
Coal Co. would be required to replace any water supplies
that failed due to nearby drawdowns south of Leupp,
according to the report.
Use of the
Coconino Aquifer could affect nearby creeks by up to
1 percent, the study found.
these reductions in base flow that could result from
the proposed project would be very small and likely
may not even be measurable, they may affect the availability
of suitable stream habitat and reduce the ability of
fish populations to survive the dry seasons," the
Colorado spinedace, which is federally listed as threatened,
and native bluehead suckers, Little Colorado suckers
and roundtail chub live in these waterways.
a paper manufacturer, the city of Winslow and a power
plant already has an impact on these fish, Flagstaff
Utilities Director Ron Doba said.
power plant closed at the end of 2005 due to a failure
to negotiate a new coal contract and after its owners
decided not to retrofit to curb ongoing air pollution
If a new
financial partner were to come aboard at Mohave, they
would have to pay an estimated $1 billion to retrofit
the plant and build a new pipeline to carry water from
Leupp to Black Mesa, plus retrofit the existing coal
slurry line to Laughlin.
Project has expressed interest in increasing its stake
to get the power plant operating by 2010 or 2011.
Aquifer would also continue to be available for mining
if there were any interruptions in the availability
of Coconino Aquifer water, according to these plans,
and for mine reclamation.
have protested the use of the Navajo Aquifer for mining.
also gives the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe the option
of paying for additional pipelines to serve residents
near the trunk line from Leupp to Black Mesa.
would ramp up its coal mining from 4.8 million tons
to 6.35 million tons a year under these plans, increase
royalties to the Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation by about
10.5 percent and add 220 jobs between mining operations
and pipeline operators.
after about 125 jobs were lost in the shutdown of Black
mined in the Black Mesa Complex since the 1970s and
had leases to mine up to 670 million tons of coal from
Navajo and Hopi lands.
at the Kayenta and Black Mesa mines were slated to last
will be held on this proposal in the month of January.
chapter of the Sierra Club asked the Office of Surface
Mining to delay the meetings, citing bad road conditions
and tribal religious ceremonies in that month.
can be reached at 913-8607 or at email@example.com.
Public meetings will be held in:
Rock on Jan. 2, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Resource
Room at the Navajo Nation Museum, Highway 64 and Loop
on Jan. 3, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Community
on Jan. 4 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Monument Valley
High School cafeteria, north Highway 163.
on Jan. 4 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Veterans Center.
on Jan. 9 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Leupp Chapter
House on Navajo Route 15.
on Jan. 10 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Winslow High
School, Student Union, 600 E. Cherry Avenue.
on Jan. 11 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Little America
Hotel, 2515 East Butler Avenue.
EIS is available for review at http://www.wrcc.osmre.gov/WR/BlackMesaEIS.htm.
number of CD and paper copies of the draft EIS have
been prepared and are available upon request. For more
information, contact Dennis Winterringer, Leader, Black
Mesa Project EIS, OSM Western Region, at (303) 844-1400,
ext. 1440, or by e-mail at BMKEIS@osmre.gov.
should be sent to BMKEIS@osmre.gov.