FROM THE ARCHIVES: Earth Day issue urges water conservation

wPg07-Mosier TCE cartoonSecond in a two-part series


Within the past 50 years, steps have been taken to maintain clean water and to raise awareness about the importance of water conservation.

In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to determine contaminant levels in public water supply.

A 1982 Aztec Press comic strip by Andy Mosier, who currently works for the Tucson Weekly, makes light of a water contaminant, trichlorethylene or TCE. According to Pima county records, this industrial solvent was improperly disposed of in southern Tucson.

This resulted in dangerous contamination of many water wells, leading to multiple cases of cancer, lawsuits and major efforts to cleanse the water supply.

A 1974 Aztec Press Earth Day issue dealt with courses offered at the Arizona State Environmental Technical Training Center at East Campus.

Russ Davis, a program instructor, voiced concerns about the changes that the Central Arizona Project would bring.

The main aim of the project was to pipe water from the Colorado River throughout most of the major cities in the Southwest.

“Here in Tucson, we use well water that needs very little treatment,” Davis said.

The water from the Colorado River would require further treatment and would not be sustainable enough to suit the needs of the rapidly growing cities of its region, Davis added.

“It’s hard to tell what treatment will be needed,” he said. “The water will be cloudy and will need to be disinfected because of animals along the way that can put bacteria into the water.”

Similar concerns were voiced in a 1981 article, when local realtor Andrew Laurie spoke to PCC students at a World Future Society meeting.

“Water is the main issue for the growth of Tucson,” Laurie said.

Laurie believed the Central Arizona Project would not provide sufficient water supply and said city planners should invest time and thought into smaller projects.

Elizabeth Zandee-Buser, editor in chief for the Aztec Press at the time, wrote about the issue in 1990.

“People who live in the desert should act like they live in the desert,” she wrote. “Water is a very precious commodity; we need to conserve it in every way.”

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