Best Nutty Idea

CAP Water

READERS' PICK: As ideas go, this one's a doozy: collect the saltiest river water imaginable from a vast, cattle poop-infested watershed; store it in a big brown lake, which also accepts the dregs of the Las Vegas, Nevada, sewer system; run it out past a couple of rapidly growing boomtowns, and thence into a big concrete ditch that doubles as a small-animal trap; filter out some of the crap; add poisonous chemicals and serve it up -- salty, warm and semi-transparent -- to thirsty desert dwellers in California and Arizona to fuel their unrestrained, go-for-broke growth far into the coming century. We don't know whether to call the Science Fiction Hall of Fame or a war-crimes tribunal, but you can sure as hell bet we'll never drink that CAP crap, no matter how much of our tax money Tucson Water spends trying to tell us it's perfectly fine. Because it isn't, and because they're nothing but corrupt shills for the Growth Lobby.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Rio Nuevo, the dusty parcel on the south side of Congress Street west of the dry Santa Cruz riverbed, is often considered the birthplace of Tucson, as various Native American tribes have lived at the base of A Mountain for thousands of years. But these days, we think Rio Nuevo is cursed land; simply to gaze onto it is enough to drive men mad with visions. In the last decade, some people have seen baseball stadiums; others have seen theme parks; others have seen museums; still others have seen a restored Spanish mission. Now City Manager Luis Gutierrez sees a phantasmal collection of museums, retail shops, restaurants and hotels -- but the mirage shimmering on the horizon will require voter approval in November. Will Tucsonans embrace the madness? Tune in on Election Day.

MORE MANIA: One UA engineer to another: "Hey, we've pissed off everyone in Tucson by building up and out, how about we go underground now!" No, not underground as in hiding out, but as in digging a big hole to build yet another building. Don't count on any Frisbee games, leisurely jogs or summer picnics on the University of Arizona Mall for a few years. In case you haven't noticed, the Mall around Cherry Avenue is being split open, so that the UA can install a $20-million building under the Mall. Known as "The Underground Bunker" to some UA students, the "Integrated Learning Center" will be for freshmen, with classrooms, computer commons, tutoring, advising and other freshmen services -- complete with escape tunnels to the library. Maybe they just ran out of red bricks.

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