When drinking your morning “cup of Jo,” ever wonder where the water comes from? When doing dishes or watering the garden, ever queried yourself about how long ago those water molecules fell from the sky? If your answer is “no,” you’re an average citizen using our most precious resource not knowing how water comes out of the faucet.

The Coconino Aquifer is a geologic storage system with water from millions of years ago to yesterday’s rain/ reclaimed recharge. The watershed that replenishes the aquifer includes not only the San Francisco Peaks/Rio de Flag, but also the entire Little Colorado River watershed. Beginning in the White Mountains near New Mexico, one of the capture regions is the Holbrook/Winslow basin including the Red Gap Ranch (RGR). RGR is Flagstaff-owned land that provides the “paper water” and future physical water enabling Flagstaff’s 100-year water supply designation, without which Flagstaff couldn’t grow.

Within the Holbrook/Winslow basin, fracking for helium is currently on-going. At RGR, the city of Flagstaff has enabled seismic testing for helium deposits. When subsurface geologic layers are fractured and “fracking water” injected, the helium (or other gasses) are forced out of the rock. “Fracking water” may contain up to 1,000 different chemical compounds, some known to be carcinogenic, endocrine disruptors or other pollutants. Once helium is extracted, the “fracking water” remains in the ruptured subsurface geology and can pollute the Coconino Aquifer. These chemicals are toxic to life in general, but particularly developing fetuses and infants. The website, www.POWAZ.org, has much more extensive information.

Fracking near water is permitted in Arizona, but is outlawed in Saudi Arabia. It provides an economic bonanza to out-of-state/country corporations that often operate through shell organizations that declare bankruptcy when lawsuits are filed. The health consequences and costs of drinking “fracked” polluted water become an individual’s responsibility and any livestock or crops grown using these waters result in further organism health problems and costs.

I call for the city of Flagstaff to cancel its agreement allowing seismic testing in the RGR region. I call for Coconino County to actively work with Navajo County and State of Arizona to stop fracking now so our regional population continues to have safe drinking water. We need to push the state to push the US EPA to strongly enforce all sections of the Clean Water Act. The USGS and State Mining Office need to set and enforce “best-practice” standards for safe mining practices in any region containing water.


Doney Park

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