Monday, June 24, 2024

Mine pipeline could dry up Leupp wells

December 3, 2006 by  
Filed under Archives

The facts from the following article regarding the Black Mesa Mine
Project’s (BMMP) plans are an outrage! Listed within is also where you can
go to view the BMMP Draft EIS Statement, and when and where the public
meetings are to express your comments.


Mine pipeline could dry up Leupp wells
Sun Staff Reporter 12/03/2006

Pumping water 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. Seventeen Navajo families in the path of the new
pipeline would need to be relocated;
Ranchers south of Leupp could see their wells fail;
Threatened fish in nearby creeks could have a tougher time surviving the
dry season.

Enough water 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.

That would 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.
Although 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.

Peabody Western 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.

“Although 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 EIS found.

The Little Colorado spinedace, which is federally listed as threatened,
and native bluehead suckers, Little Colorado suckers and roundtail chub
live in tese waterways.

Pumping from a paper manufacturer, the city of Winslow and a power plant
already has an impact on these fish, Flagstaff Utilities Director Ron
Doba said.

The Laughlin 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 violations.

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.

Salt River Project has expressed interest in increasing its stake to get the
power plant operating by 2010 or 2011.

The Navajo 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.

Hopi farmers have protested the use of the Navajo Aquifer for mining.

The proposal 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.

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. This comes after about 125 jobs
were lost in the shutdown of Black Mesa Mine.

Peabody had 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.
Mining operations at the Kayenta and Black Mesa mines were slated to last
until 2026.

Public meetings will be held on this proposal in the month of January.
The local 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.

Cyndy Cole can be reached at 913-8607 or at

Pipeline meeting schedule:

Public meetings will be held in:

* Window 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 Road.

*Moenkopi on Jan. 3, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Community Center.

*Kayenta on Jan. 4 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Monument Valley High
School cafeteria, north Highway 163.

* Kykotsmovi on Jan. 4 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Veterans Center.

* Leupp on Jan. 9 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Leupp Chapter House on
Navajo Route 15.

* Winslow on Jan. 10 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Winslow High School,
Student Union, 600 E. Cherry Avenue.

* Flagstaff on Jan. 11 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Little America Hotel,
2515 East Butler Avenue.

The draft EIS is available for review at
A limited 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
E-mail comments should be sent to

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