Town Can Pump More Water, But Officials Promote Conservation

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Town officials are reluctant to tell residents this summer to go with the flow, even though seven new wells are now on line and storage tanks are at 90 percent capacity.

"We're going to be cautious about having fires started within the town limits, which is always the reason why we want to have ample water storage in the tanks -- for firefighting purposes," Public Works Director Buzz Walker said Monday.

"As the Forest Service goes," he said, "so do we."

"The town pretty much mirrors what we do," said Pat Velasco, fire manager with the Payson Ranger District.

With the July 4 holiday and additional visitors on the summer horizon, town officials are meeting the extreme fire danger with water conservation measures and the addition of new wells and a new storage tank.

Walker said the town is nearing completion of a 1 1/2 million gallon storage tank near the Payson airport. "It should be completed by July 1," he said.

Pumping capacity from the seven new wells will bring the town's daily water supply from 3 million gallons a day to 4.2 million gallons a day.

Three of the new wells have been dedicated to the town by Chaparral Pines, Payson Pines, and Stone Creek subdivisions.

Walker said the town's water department has added two new wells at Aero Drive, and one each at Sky Park and Goat Camp.

Town officials are asking residents to be aware, and to minimize waste water used for irrigation and washing their vehicles.

Walker said those who use more water this summer will have to pay extra for it.

The council adopted an increase in water usage rates in August 1998 that will apply each year from May through September. Rates have increased 90 cents over the base rate of $2.00 per 1,000 gallons for customers who use over 10,000, but less than 20,000 gallons per month.

Customers who use more than 20,000 are now seeing an increase of 99 cents over the base rate of $2.20 per 1,000 gallons a month.

If water sales increase by more than 5 percent over the previous year, the additional revenues will go to the Water Enterprise Fund for water conservation measures, exploration and development of new sources of water.

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