By Eric Petermann, Sierra Vista Herald
Bisbee is joining the Cochise Conservation and Recharge Network, a coalition of local organizations committed to maintaining the San Pedro River subwatershed.
Acting in their capacity as directors of the county flood district on Tuesday, supervisors approved amending a Memorandum of Understanding among the existing members of the network. Those entities include the Cochise County Flood Control District, the City of Sierra Vista, the Hereford Natural Resource Conservation District and the nonprofit Nature Conservancy.
The amendment requires the signed approval of two more members of the network to formally add Bisbee to the group. Mayor Ron Oertle signed the amendment MOU on April 5.
Britt Hanson, legal counsel to the flood district, said the city agreed to have representation in the conservation and recharge network, after being approached about piping Bisbee’s wastewater effluent into Horseshoe Draw, to contribute to the San Pedro aquifer.
In January, Supervisor Pat Call made a presentation to the Bisbee council asking the city to consider a plan to capture the treated wastewater effluent and pipe it to Horseshoe Draw on the Ladd Family Ranch. Hanson emphasized that Bisbee’s decision to join the CCRN did not mean the city was consenting to contribute its wastewater effluent. Council members only felt representation in the group was important to the city’s interests.
The Cochise Conservation and Recharge Network is a cooperative effort to implement regional water management projects. In addition to the Bisbee effluent piping project, the Network is developing plans for infrastructure at the south end of Horseshoe Draw, capturing and redirecting surface stormwater flows to contribute to the San Pedro subwatershed.
Supervisors convened to conduct the county’s business and authorized expenditures from the General Fund of $239,266 for capital equipment. Another $449,860 was appropriated from the Special Revenue Funds account for three large capital purchases.
From the General Fund, supervisors authorized $55,715 for 90 Verizon cell phones for Sheriff’s deputies and the County Attorney’s Office.
Lieutenant Curtis Wilkins told the county board it’s time deputies stopped using their personal cellphones for their job. He said the devices are needed for timely interviews with victims and suspects, along with other communication between officers.
“It’s something the county provides to the leadership in the department and now it’s time the deputies have the same thing,” Wilkins said.
Money was also allocated from the General Fund for carpeting in courthouse offices, parking lot repairs, upgrading of air handling equipment at the county’s Douglas Service Center and installing evidence storage spaces at the main Sheriff’s Office facility in Bisbee
From the Special Revenue Funds account, discussion focused on a $300,000 expenditure to refurbish the water tower that services the Bisbee Douglas International Airport, and the State Prison in Douglas.
Supervisor Call noted that the project cost does not include transporting water to and from the prison during the time that the water tower is drained and its interior painted. That raised concerns by Supervisor Richard Searle, who questioned whether the board should be approving only a portion of the total cost.
“What’s the sense in putting this item in now, if we know in a couple of weeks we’re going to be talking about adding the rest of the costs,” Searle said.
Speaking as the Internal Services Administrator, Ruben Miranda told supervisors that the vendor he is working with on the project has to have a commitment within the next few weeks, or planning for refurbishing the water tower will have to wait another year.
Board members also approved a $15,000 expenditure for the Emergency Services Department, listening to a brief presentation by Norm Sturm on the advantages of planning software for his agency.