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Q: I've been told that Salt River Project owns the water that falls on my property, and I'm not allowed to collect or store it. Is that true?

A: While Salt River Project owns the rights to all water in a 13,000-square-mile watershed that includes your property, Town of Payson Public Works Director Buzz Walker says the issue is when it becomes theirs.

"Our understanding is that unless water is in a drainage channel you can impound it," Walker said. "They will tell you that you can't."

Rich Martin, group leader for physical resources for the Tonto National Forest and an expert on SRP, concurs.

"Until it gets into some kind of a channel, water doesn't come under state jurisdiction and you can use it," Martin said. "However, if it's in a stream and running across your private land, you cannot build a private dam and divert it."

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