Town Should Curb Water Waste, Not Development


by Bob McQueen


An old test of insanity was to put a person in a bathroom where water was running into a bath tub that was about to overflow. In the room was a bucket, a laundry sink with a drain to the outside and a shutoff valve to the bath tub.

If the patient grabbed the bucket and began to bale water from the about-to-overflow tub before shutting off the incoming water, it was a pretty good bet, as we would say today, the patient probably didn't have both oars in the water. Not too savvy.

In the June 8 issue of the Roundup, the water report gave reason for concern. Yes, we have a good water reserve, but we, the people of Payson, are using more water per capita than we were only three or four years back. Surprise, surprise.

I stood before the town council and the town manager and said the course you're taking is turning our town into a Vail, Colo. No longer will we see entry-level homes coming on line. Only the affluent can or will pay an additional $10,000 in impact fees.

Our service people cannot afford to live here. Even our school teachers, firemen and policemen won't find a new home, and they'll be hard-pressed to find a suitable dwelling. My views were pooh-poohed. I was told the number of building permits was virtually unchanged down slightly. Perhaps so. However, the building permits are from where? Mostly in Chaparral Pines and other luxury upper-end homes.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to expect a 3,000- to 5,000-square-foot house to use more water than a 1,200- to 1,600-square-foot house.

Do we need more water? Sure, and the town is working on that. Do we need to be good stewards of the water we have? I think so. Let's focus on conservation for a minute.

Are you aware there are restaurants in town that use 150,000 gallons of water per month? Most of that water is literally down the toilet. Have you stayed in a hotel where the showers were water conservative? I don't stay in local hotels. Most every hotel I've been in does not have water-saving shower heads. Plus, you must turn the water on full force in order to get to the warm water. What a terrible waste.

I don't like to present a problem without a solution. I propose that it should become mandatory for every old, excessive water-using toilet in Payson to be changed within two-years to water saving toilets, both commercial and residential.

Currently our town has an ordinance that each new home development is subject to a $3,785 water-impact fee. My proposal is to offer a $100 incentive from the water development fund for each toilet changed. If that formula works, we would replace 37 toilets that use 3 to 5 gallons per flush, compared to the new 6-liter ones, about 1 1/2 gallons per flush.

We, Payson, could become the lighthouse on this hill to set the example for Arizona and beyond.

Another water-saving tip is to keep a plastic bucket in the shower. Simply catch the runoff before the warm water gets there. Use that water for your plants or to flush the toilet. A family of only two will save a barrel and a half to two barrels of water per month. Think of pouring two barrels of water carelessly down the drain. And, if you're not using a water-saving shower head ... shame on you.

Let's take a sanity check. We can shut down on waste before we panic and shut off any new development. Please do not mess with our very delicate economic balance. Managed new development and modest growth is a necessary part of Payson's economics.

Please support these ideas at Town Hall.

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