Tombstone Water Worries

Tombstone, AZ (KOLD) - The battle to fix a busted water pipeline has a Southern Arizona city in a desperate situation. The City of Tombstone has been working to fix their water line that runs out of the damaged Huachuca mountains for months now, but they say red tape is holding them back.

Miller Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains is where Tombstone's been getting a majority of the city's water for more than 100 years. But since the Monument Fire and the floods that followed, that water supply needs a whole lot of work. The city had no idea doing that work would be as hard as it's been.

24 miles of pipeline takes the water from active springs in the mountains to these tanks high above to the town to tough to die.

"We've been getting the water in Tombstone from the Huachuca Mountains since 1881," Tombstone Mayor Jack Henderson said.

But the tanks have been dry ever since monsoon storms sent flood waters screaming down the scarred mountainside. Leaving the Tombstone water line twisted and broken.

Governor Jan Brewer declared a State of Emergency and gave tombstone $50,000 to help restore the water flow.

"The emergency was declared in August and we have about a months work to do up there, but we haven't been able to start," Henderson explained.

Mayor Henderson says they've been running into road blocks, mainly in the form of the U.S. Forest Service.

The land where the work on the pipeline has to happen is now wilderness area. Mayor Henderson says the forest service is literally standing in their way to get water to Tombstone. He told KOLD, "Yesterday we took this load of pipe and we're told he cannot unload them on our own property in the canyons."

Tombstone crews are doing preliminary work outside of the wilderness area right now, but say the Forest Service is requiring permits to work up in the canyon. Permits, according to Henderson, they've been asking for, for weeks.

Henderson said, "They're expediting the permits, well we asked for them in August and so far we would have expected our expedited permit to happen in a matter of days."

The U.S. Forest Service tells KOLD News 13 that they just received the necessary paperwork for the permits this week. We're told the permits will be issued, but they first have to determine what tools and methods are going to be used to fix the busted line.

So while the crews do what they can for now, they just hope those permits come through because the $50,000 from the state has to be used by February.

A meeting is now scheduled for 8:30am Thursday morning between Tombstone engineers and the U.S. Forest Service.

Stay with KOLD News 13 for continuing coverage on this story.

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