What does the Community Water Co. of Green Valley have to hide?
That’s a good question to ask since the company has refused to release information on a mining company’s offer to build a Central Arizona Project water pipeline to the Green Valley area.
The nonprofit water cooperative has said it is weighing an offer from Augusta Resource Corp. to build the $9 million to $15 million pipeline.
There are suspicions about Augusta’s offer. The company is hoping to build a mile-wide, open-pit copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains, east of Green Valley.
Water for mining is a major concern. Augusta has said it would drill wells on land it has bought in the Sahuarita-Green Valley area. Paying for a pipeline to bring CAP water to the area is a good-will gesture, the company said.
Clearly Augusta would like support from Green Valley residents and their water company. But water company officials have said Augusta’s offer to pay for the pipeline is not contingent on support for the mine.
To confirm that, Ray Carroll, who represents the area on the Pima County Board of Supervisors, asked the water company for information.
In a request for public records, Carroll sought a “copy of any written agreement, contract or letter of intent” between Augusta and the water company. That’s a reasonable request. And if there really is no under-the-table agreement, the water company should have no problem providing the information.
But the water company refused. Its chairman of the board said the cooperative had entered into a letter of intent with Augusta, but he refused to provide a copy of it because “it does not represent any final agreement.”
That’s the point. The public should have the opportunity to look at the agreement before it is finalized.
Green Valley water officials say they are not hiding “any substantive terms it is discussing with Augusta.” Their secretive response does not engender confidence in that assertion.
If the water cooperative is not hiding anything, it should release the proposed agreement forthwith.
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