Northern Gila County explorers are getting ready to solve one of the great local mysteries of all time -- is there water under the Rim?
For years, hydrologists and geologists and coffee-clutch regulars have spun tales about the magnificent underground river that flows far beneath the Mogollon Rim.
"The water's there," the legend goes, "but nobody's drilled deep enough to find it."
Well, Gila County and the Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District have scraped together enough money to sink a drill 2,000 feet into the earth and find out if the legend is true.
Satisfying this particular brand of curiosity is an expensive endeavor -- likely $100,000 to $150,000 a pop. That's why nobody's done it before.
And right now, the agencies involved in the project only have enough money to look for the water.
Developing it, said Gila County District Supervisor Ron Christensen, is another matter altogether.
Funding this project, which could provide Pine, Strawberry and possibly even Payson with a vast new source of drinking water, was no easy feat, and the people who spearheaded this landmark effort should be commended.
It's troubling, however, that the officials in charge of this project have decided to put off plans to develop any new water sources. Securing the funding needed to develop operational wells and developing or negotiating for a water-delivery system will take a good deal of time. With such a delicate balance between water supply and demand in Pine and Strawberry, there is really little time to waste.
Good planning doesn't cost much and it could certainly expedite water development if any is found. None of us in the Rim country can afford to waste time when it comes to developing water.