Cheyenne Nimes

"The home builders have a long history of trying to avoid any Clean Water Act regulation, so it's not surprising that they would do this. As evidenced by the condition of our rivers in Arizona, it's never been easy to protect them. And a big reason for that is the efforts of the home builders to avoid regulation." Sandy Bahr of the Sierra Club's Grand Canyon Chapter.

WHEREAS, dear Santa Cruz River, test case for national policy on river protection:
          A. because navigable rivers are covered under section 404 of the Clean Water Act but you're an “ephemeral” river—& streams flow only during intense rainfall, into deep ravines and arroyos,
          B. so you've been tricked, you've been a token in this scheme because they want you to be someone you're not, &
          C. it's a different river, the wrong river, a river far from this one, &
          D. on & on that river flowed, now golden like the aisle to God's distant altar; and

WHEREAS, the EPA declared two portions of the Santa Cruz River—one stretching from Tubac to Continental Road and the other from the Roger Road sewage—treatment plant to the county line—navigable in December, after taking on the river as a "special case"; and

WHEREAS, henceforth, agency officials removed the designations without explanation:"This document has been temporality removed pending further policy review"; and

WHEREAS, that constitutes crime scene evidence like lying in wait &

  1. you need to research the story you are being told,
  2. & see who benefits from your deception; and

WHEREAS, only humans & seals have salty tears; and

WHEREAS, the National Mining Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, The National Cattlemen's Beef Association, The Public Lands Council, American Forest and Paper Association, American Public Power Association, Edison Electric Institute, National Association of Home Builders, National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Counties are now called “grass roots” are now turning the waters to blood & the bleed effect, cracked across the river, & it's a river to nowhere; and

WHEREAS, aforementioned big business are no match for Ducks Unlimited, the National Wildlife Federation, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Trout Unlimited, & the Clean Water Network (CWN), a coalition of more than 1,200 public interest organizations across the country representing more than 5 million people; and

WHEREAS, more than 80% of species in Arizona depend on riparian habitat at some point in their life cycle &
          A. the American Bird Conservatory lists southwestern riparian habitat as the fifth-most threatened habitat in the U.S. &
          B.  freshwater animals are disappearing five times faster than land animals &
          C. that means this one & all dark-shadowed rivers, ones was then wasn't then was; and

WHEREAS, what happens to the microcosm happens to the macrocosm &
          A. this fact has never changed; and

WHEREAS, will never change; and

WHEREAS, the Rapanos disaster tried to change surface water quality protections implemented in Arizona & on every American river since 1972 as if a wetland is isolated from the surrounding ecosystems—a series of events seemingly unrelated-  not a galaxy striking the edge of another galaxy and

WHEREAS, most rivers begin accidently &

  1. they all glow a certain way &
  2. there are colors to each of them, their watersheds &
  3. a drainage basin is a distinct longitudinal zone,
  4. a water of the United States; which includes, but is not limited to:
  5. a sandy bottom wash, small wash, lake, tributary, a two foot wide wash, storm water retention basin, bays, beaches, runoffs, kills, runs, reaches, brooks, riffles, natural pools, storm water retention ponds, natural ponds, farm ponds, standing waters, backwaters, anabranches, channels, wastewater treatment systems, streams, headwater streams, intermittent streams, peripheral streams, streambeds, stream terraces, streets and gutters, gulches, gullies, irrigation canals, endorheic basins, swamps, inland swamps, backswamps, backwaters, bayous, cypress swamps, cypress domes, springs, flooded grasslands, glades, wet meadows, adjacent wetlands, small wetlands intermixed with uplands, remote wetlands, small discontinuous wetlands, "isolated" wetlands, “isolated” intrastate pools, puddles of rainwater, marches, coastal marshes, fringing marshes, estuaries, tidal bores, northern bogs, southern riverine bottomlands, oases, floods, flooded river valleys, meanders, rincons, lagoons, sandflats, swales, watersheds, creeks, cricks, small rivers, rills, mudflats, fjords, rias, terraces, river birfurcations, a streetwash, cutoff, eddy, floodplain, rivulet, prairie pothole, playa lake, wet meadow, sloughs, oxbows, drainage basins, irrigation ditches, desert washes, damp places, deltas, discharges, draws, depressions filled with water on an intermittent basis, distributaries, & thousands of fluvial landform water bodies which flow into other  streams which, in turn,
  6. combine to form larger streams then
  7. these larger streams unite to form rivers &
  8. a stream is smaller than a river,
  9. a creek is smaller than a stream,
  10. but larger than a brook;
  11. stream, brook, creek, and rivulet are applied interchangeably to any small river &
  12. a truly comprehensive list of water collections—or the point between two rivers—could not be contained on this page alone &
  13. in fact, I don't believe that it could be contained at all; and

Whereas,about 60 percent of the nation's streams are nonpermanent, according to the National Hydrology Dataset, &
          A. between 80 and 95 percent of streams in arid western states like Arizona, Utah and New Mexico do not flow year-round;and

WHEREAS, the 1972 Clean Water Act was intended to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters” and were that violated, it would result in the removal of 96% of the state of Arizona's surface waters from Clean Water Act protections which means they couldn't prohibit wastewater discharges into the cleanest rivers like Sabino Creek and the Little Colorado River & all aforementioned 96 names in Section Nine; and

WHEREAS, to the Kogi Indians of Columbia the three entities at the beginning of life are

  1. mother,
  2. night, &
  3. water; and

WHEREAS, where a season crosses over, lines in the river crack like a weed in the ground—you can't even recognize her face anymore—& they may even say it is worthless & therefore doesn't exist—try & pretend that something is not when it is—but you can't replace something that “is” with something that “is not” because

  1. “what is” & “what is not” are two completely different configurations &
  2. you do not change one into the other & it doesn't have to have a name,
  3. it is “water” & that is enough & it goes into the underworld &,
  4. returning, brought & brings & will bring life &
  5. 96% of the streams in Arizona are non-perennial & subterranean water—1,680,000 cubic miles of it—is groundwater; and

WHEREAS, the hardest situation for humans to understand is that they cannot understand it all but that 
                A. where there is no water, there is no life; and

WHEREAS, that is the one situation true & in all instances & therefore the
               A. one sole phenomenon—humans understand; and

WHEREAS, 10-16% percent of the earth is true desert & evaporation of the seas goes on all the time,
               A. enough to drain all oceans completely every 3 thousand years; and

WHEREAS, evaporation is a distinct, regular, normal part of the hydrologic cycle, and

WHEREAS, "In Arizona alone, according to the experts at the EPA, we stand to lose protection of approximately 95 percent of our streams and rivers under current federal agency interpretations, which would allow pollution to greatly increase," —Grijalva, chairman of the House National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee; and

WHEREAS, that would be absurd; and

WHEREAS, water created 3 billion years ago is still in existence & large rivers flow faster than small ones—that's clear—& as water moves, it slows down or speeds up, becomes shallower or deeper, & deep water is dark, &

  1. human babies learn to swim before we ever walk or sit upright, &
  2. know not to try to breathe under water, know to come to the surface naturally, &
  3. we kept the hair on our heads to give babies something to cling to as we swam &
  4. adults are 65-70% H2O, same as elephants &
  5. all parties in Section Six say with a straight face they “haven't seen any elephants”; and

WHEREAS, the Pima County Waste Water Department already quotes themselves: "The water in the Santa Cruz river is clean, but we advise against drinking, or playing in it"; and

WHEREAS, the Santa Cruz decision will set a precedent for how all other rivers, streams and wetlands will be evaluated in the United States & if the Santa Cruz is a navigable river, it gains Traditional Navigable Waters (TNW), the most restrictive designation in the Clean Water Act; and

WHEREAS, precedents have a way of setting precedents adfinfinitum; and

WHEREAS, “A controversial 2006 Supreme Court decision in the Rapanos case reinterpreted the 1972 Clean Water Act. The Rapanos decision potentially excluded from the Clean Water Act waterways that are either non-navigable or don't have a “significant nexus” to a navigable waterway. Suddenly, Justice Anthony Kennedy caused every potential streambed in the country to be analyzed  to see if it was connected to another that could or have or has had watercraft on it before it could be protected from pollution or disruption, creating legal chaos for some arid Western states, including Arizona. From 1975 until this decision, such a connection was not needed in streambeds that were “ephemeral” or often dry” & apparently the Supremes

  1. expected God to be a creature, have a face & be singular in 3D,
  2. just like themselves &
  3. God must be under the water they said; and

WHEREAS, if God is underwater or there is no water whatsoever it is because she is drowning in elusive legal standards, jurisdictional uncertainty, & the lowering of priority of enforcement action due to uncertainty whether the waters remained within the scope of the Clean Water Act, therefore allowing

  1. polluters in enforcement actions to raise the lack of Clean Water Act jurisdiction as defense &
  2. because the Clean Water Act enforcement docket has been so adversely affected she cannot lift herself up out of the sewage &
  3. subsequently is a violation if God invented people so the water could walk place to place, and

WHEREAS, it is water, is it not, thus must be clean to continue to keep all us alive; and

WHEREAS, water molecules cling tightly to one another & hydrogen atoms & their bonds & 2 hydrogen atoms are angled 104.5 degrees from each other at all times with & billions of tiny bonds—&

  1. no one has ever seen a water molecule &
  2. all we know is atoms are laced together &
  3. they look like river under a microscope or on an X-ray &
  4. comparable to branching patterns of trees, or blood vessels in animal tissue, & other natural networks, &
  5. two hydrogens & one oxygen atom cling & need heated up to 2,900 degrees to pull them apart; and

WHEREAS, water molecules cling tightly to one another; and

WHEREAS, as many as 50,000 midge larvae occupy a single square yard on a river's bottom &

  1. we started out as blue-green algae, the slimy coating on rocks &
  2. 7% of all humans are born with webbed feet & we still have rudimentary webs between our fingers & thumbs & Parties to Section Six thought it was less, didn't they &
  3. when we're 8 months old, we're still 81% water &
  4. every cell has a fluid interior with hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, sulphur, silica, calcium iodine, fluorine, chlorine, bromine, silver, cobalt, vanadium, gold & 60,000 miles of arteries & veins on each of us; and

WHEREAS, they cling tightly; and

WHEREAS, over 85% of the fish fauna in Arizona are threatened & all three ecoregions have a conservation status of either critical or endangered with a high likelihood of future threats and

WHEREAS, they cling; and

WHEREAS, not long ago, scientists believed water came directly from the center of the earth; 1580 Bernard Palissy said water in rivers & springs came from rainfall, Halley later figured out the amount falling equaled the amount in the rivers, & water traveled thru the atmosphere; evaporation then, not from the center of the earth but clouds—storm clouds—return water to land & sea as rain, oceans, land, air, making perennial streams flow year around & intermittent streams flow only during the wet season or after heavy rain or are dry riverbeds; and

WHEREAS, the ongoing depletion of the aquifer is the reason the Santa Cruz dried out except after storms; and

WHEREAS, common sense like this, for some reason, needs stated in this SENATE JOINT MEMORIAL; and

WHEREAS, water is not uniformly available in all various areas of the United States; and

WHEREAS, they cling tightly for dear life; and

WHEREAS, water molecules cling tightly to one another because they know degradation & protection of any potential watershed always begins at its 9th order tributaries; and

WHEREAS, it bears repeating that degradation & protection of any potential watershed always begins at its 9th order tributaries; and;

WHEREAS, they cling for safety because
          A. there is safety in numbers &
          B. moving targets remain whole; and

WHEREAS, just because the southwest has 9th order ephemeral streams with no monstrous berths the Queen Mary can cruise down doesn't call for them to be degraded & destroyed, making local residents ingest toxins like there's nothing wrong with this at all, as if it's something they understand better than we do; and

WHEREAS, riparian areas—riverbeds & streambeds—are aquifer restorers & riparian zones are land adjacent to streams—containing wildlife & wildlands—which contain finned critters, furred friends, winged things which,

  1. if polluted & destroyed, as will ground water aquifers be polluted & destroyed,
  2. & plants & animals living in & around it,
  3. the nutrients dissolving in its water,
  4. & rock & soil carried by its flow,
  5. the ecosystem; and

WHEREAS, they continue to cling tightly to one another; and

WHEREAS, 70 inches in one day fell on the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean, which set a record, but
          A. this is not Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean; and

WHEREAS, the larger the body count, the worst for the State,

  1. the country,
  2. this world &
  3. in other dimensional worlds; and

WHEREAS, water molecules don't let go no matter who comes for them; and

WHEREAS, Home-builder organizations fought hard against treating streams with intermittent flows—like the Santa Cruz—as navigable waters & the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association, the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona & the National Association of Home Builders filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in D.C. seeking injunction against the Environmental Protection Agency & the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and

WHEREAS, these molecules are stronger than the Section Six, which shall henceforth be called Section Eight, humans; and

WHEREAS, “…Memos came to light that some Pima County officials had urged the Corps and the Environmental Protection Agency to favor policies that would, in effect, eliminate CWA enforcement on Tucson waterways. Some viewed the memos as another example of the public works and transportation departments working at cross purposes with county planners over conservation issues”; & referred to the Clean Water Act as “this troublesome regulatory constraint” and

WHEREAS, we may say that: Some Pima County Officials suffer from a profound thought disorder &

  1. remain dumb as a load of gravel &
  2. prefer toxic chemicals,
  3. raw sewage,
  4. & oil to
  5. clean water; and

WHEREAS, someone is going to get caught &
          A. they did; and

WHEREAS, someone smart said, “This was really good news to have back the protections that we lost when the Corps rescinded the designation. I see this as an important interim step while they study whether the rest of the river should have this protection. I'm very hopeful for the whole river to get the traditional navigable waterway, but with this, all the tributaries should be protected because they all eventually touch these two portions”; and

WHEREAS, quantum physicists determined decades ago everything touches everything anyway, no matter what the Corps puts in their studies; and

WHEREAS, the average stay of a water molecule in the air is ten days; and

WHEREAS, it will eventually come down again, we swear before the Court to tell the whole truth & nothing but the truth so help us God; and

WHEREAS, “The Environmental Protection Agency has deemed two portions of the Santa Cruz River navigable, which means the usually dry "waterway" deserves full protection under the federal Clean Water Act. The designation —based on flows created by sewage treatment plants in Tucson and Nogales and the historic use of the river for recreation —means stepped up restrictions on building along the river and its tributaries, and more required permits for private and government construction”; and

WHEREAS,“stepped up restrictions” shall make the water happier to let go & fall upon our heads; and

WHEREAS, the proposed legislation—Baucus-Klobuchar Compromise for Clean Water, & amended Clean Water Restoration Act—replaces the term "navigable waters" with "waters of the United States" because someone caught on that federal protections apply to all waters, (& that someone was not the Parties in Section Eight) as Congress intended in 1972 to protect all of America's waters from pollution, not just those that are navigable & it's past to restore the act's original intentions; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ARIZONA that those days draw near when the waters rise, about to break through, &

  1. water molecules cling tightly to one another &
  2. this is how it moves, this is the law &
  3. the river's beginning—it is not far now-; and



    I was born by a river
    that was paved with cement
    I was born by a river
    that was paved with cement
    Still I'd stand out in that river
    and dream that I was soaking wet

    Someday it's gonna rain
    Someday it's gonna pour
    Someday that old dry river
    Won't be dry anymore

James McMurtry

  • “June 2006: The U.S. Supreme Court limits the scope of Clean Water Act protection for isolated rivers, streams and wetlands. Justice Anthony Kennedy writes that they must have a significant connection to “a navigable waterway, in the traditional sense,” to be legally entitled to federal protection.

    • May 2008: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decides that 54 miles of the Santa Cruz River north and south of Tucson deserve classification as a traditional navigable waterway, and, thus, regulation under the Clean Water Act.

    • July 2008: The Corps suspends the river's navigable determination for at least 60 days as part of a broader, national review of navigability.

    • July 2008: The Pima County Board of Supervisors votes to conduct an audit of its own staff because memos show some staffers opposed the navigability status without telling the board.

    • August 2008: Two U.S. House committee chairmen vote to investigate the Corps' handling of the Santa Cruz decision, at the request of Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Tucson.

    • August 2008: The Board of Supervisors supports navigability for a much longer stretch of the Santa Cruz, from the Mexican border to the Pinal County line. The Environmental Protection Agency moves to take over handling of the navigability issue from the Corps.”







This piece was hard to write because I got so angry researching it. Having spent the past 18 months writing about rivers in America, I'm continually astounded at the Environmental Non-Protection Agencies' sheer stupidity. Santa Cruz River, as well as the Rio Bravo (in the form of a Q&A between a Laredo Water Commissioner & a 7th grade science class) took it out of me. Right now I'm going river to river and using various forms to do so. Part of the reason is an audience can hold on for only so long before zoning out if these pieces are straight, staid narrative. Messing with form makes rivers less abstract—more real somehow—& I hope to get the literary community (more) concerned about the world water crisis. Genre may be a bookstore problem but we write the books the bookstores sell & we shouldn't put up with categorizing against cross-fertilization. I've always felt like a freak for being a hybrid writer. But less so now. Thank you, DIAGRAM. Thanks too to all the hybrid writers out there; you know who you are. Good book on subject: Unquenchable. Also: When The Rivers Run Dry: Water—The Defining Crisis of the 21st Century. See: Waterlaw.org, aquadoc.typepad.com