Hundreds of springs in southern Arizona’s Patagonia Mountains, as well as the wildlife that depend on them, are at risk. A mining company called South32 seeks to develop a new underground mine known as the Hermosa project. But to operate the area first has to be pumped dry underground. This will cause a “cone of depression” in the water table — lowering groundwater levels around the mine by an estimated 1,900 feet and potentially harming hundreds of springs and seeps fed by that water.
Using the form below, tell the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to protect this precious Sky Island gem and reject the company’s water permit.
If granted, groundwater pumping will begin. And where that water goes is yet another problem. It’ll be squandered — dumped out at the rate of 6 million gallons per day into Harshaw Creek and 172,000 gallons per day into Alum Creek. Both creeks are currently intermittent/ephemeral, and the consistent addition of such huge volumes of water will bury springs and irrevocably change the landscape.
Since June 2023, SIA volunteers have helped survey more than 80 springs in this area to gain baseline data and understand what’s at stake. Join us now as we urge state officials to deny the project permit. Comments are due by Jan. 12 (see project details and learn more in the Patagonia Regional Times).