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Environment

Critics: Environmental Impact Statement Needed For Well

Photo courtesy National Park Service.
Montezuma Well is home to many plants and animals only found in this environment. It's also regarded as the point of origin for the Yavapai people, and thus remains a sacred site to them.
Montezuma Well
Montezuma Well

The water inside Montezuma Well at the Montezuma Castle National Monument is believed to be more than 10,000 years old.

Currently, the Arizona Water Company operates two commercial wells near the monument. Now, another water company wants to open their own high-production well just 300-feet from the boundaries of the national monument. Critics claim the new well was put in without permits, and should not be turned on until an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is completed.

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The well the Montezuma Rimrock Water Company wants to activate is 400-feet deep, and has the capacity to pump 750 gallons per minute. The company drilled the well in 2006, but has not turned it on yet in part because investigative reporter and Rimrock property ownerJohn Dougherty, has waged a legal battle to stop them.

Dougherty wants a full Environmental Impact Statement before the well comes online. So does the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Park Service.

"That would be pretty expensive," Dougherty said. "But the reason why [the EPA and the National Park Service] want [an EIS] is because they want to make sure this well will not damage Montezuma national monument and Wet Beaver Creek."

Patricia Olsen, the owner of the water company, said of the EIS: "It’s going to cost my customers approximately $200,000."

She went on: "How can you at this time with the economy do that to your customers? No one has money at this time."

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Olsen's company is under its second extension from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to meet state arsenic standards. The company has until April 2012.

The water company owner is set to present her plan on how to do this to the Arizona Corporation Commission on December 9th – a plan which Dougherty claims involves activating the well, with or without an EIS.

Olsen declined further comment.