The April 2 “Wolf’s Den” (AZ Daily Sun) brings an emerging issue to point. Dave Wolf’s call for protecting wetlands and other waters is an essential responsibility we all need to be aware of and take meaningful action to preserve.
As Hopi say, “Water is life”. Maintaining water quality enables both human and environmental health because water is the fundamental transport agent that moves nutrients and pollutants through our bodies and ecosystem.
Beyond Dave’s article, the Army Corp of Engineers now allows more human development in or near riparian areas, those regions where, in Arizona, you find 95+% of species diversity in less than 1% of land area. Species diversity is essential for maintaining energy flow and health in natural systems.
Second, the City of Flagstaff currently discharges reclaimed wastewater into local streams thereby recharging the Coconino aquifer, the largest source of Flagstaff’s drinking water. This helps re-establish plant growth (foodbase) in riparian areas, but we do not know the longer term effect on plant health.
When wastewater reaches the aquifer, it carries chemicals of emerging concern (CECs) known to cause development problems in fetuses and infants at very low (parts per trillion) levels. Both the Flagstaff Water Group and the Friends of the Rio (I’m a member of both) support reclaimed water use in Rio de Flag streams provided the water is cleaned using advanced technologies.
Under Arizona State Code, Title 18: Environmental Quality, it bans discharge of pollutants that could affect human health from migrating into a water source used for human consumption. While the city is working to comply with regulations, moving to advance technology treatment of reclaimed and all other water is a prudent step in protecting our health and that of future generations.
Arizona Daily Sun April 15, 2019