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US High Court Refuses to Hear Tombstone Water Case

The chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court today rejected a bid by the city of Tombstone for an emergency order allowing it to immediately repair its damaged water supply in the Huachuca Mountains. 

The Monument Fire last year burned about 30,000 acres in and around the national forest southeast of Sierra Vista. But what caused problems were huge mudslides, with Volkswagen-size boulders destroying the pipes that supply Tombstone's water and the more than two dozen springs that feed it. Efforts by the city to bring in equipment to make repairs have been thwarted by the Forest Service amid questions of potential environmental damage and even whether the city is entitled to the water. A trial judge refused last month to grant the city immediate access to the area. That sent attorney Nick Dranias of the Goldwater Institute to the high court seeking relief.

"Every day that goes by, Tombstone could burn to the ground," Dranias said. "The city of Tombstone needs every drop of water that it can get because the water systems are absolutely inadequate to handle any sort of major fire."

Dranias also brushed aside arguments of potential environmental damage from the city's equipment.

"It's a moonscape up there," he said.

Dranias said he is not giving up and will be asking other justices to intervene.