by Ken Knapp
As a bona fide and proud member of Citizens Awareness Committee, I take great exception to many of the misstatements your letters to the editor have contained lately. I believe these are maliciously intended to mislead Payson residents.
First, the current "water petition" is not being circulated or sponsored by CAC. Yes, some of the people gathering signatures are members, but many are not. All are very concerned about the water crisis that Payson is facing. I know of none who wants to stop all growth. I do, however, know that many real estate brokers, sales agents, builders and construction workers think we are "out to get them."
Secondly, the petition is not illegal in any way. It is a very simple request to the town council to stop approving new subdivisions because we are presently at, or close to "safe yield," according to our very own Payson Water Department.
In no way does the petition ask for a moratorium on building permits. We're sorry that some people willfully cloud the distinction between new subdivisions and building permits. Here's exactly what the petition says:
"WATER!!! The most recent Town of Payson water report indicates we are at, or very near "safe yield." Therefore, the undersigned residents of Payson request immediate action by the town council to place a moratorium on any new subdivisions or land divisions until such time as the town has an adequate supply of New Water in town and available for use."
In all honesty, I don't expect the present town council and its Realtor advisory committees to pay much attention to this. But I think they may well be stunned by the amount of signatures we are getting. Nineteen out of 20 people eagerly sign and express their apprehension of where our leaders are taking us. Payson residents are not as gullible or inattentive as many would like to think.
One of the letter writers stated that the town tanks have been full all summer and that "safe yield"... has an additional 20 percent safety cushion. If that is true, then the writer must have a crystal ball, because she certainly knows more than our water department ... unless the latter has been holding out on us.
The suggestions that we move ahead on finding new water on private property might make some sense. Despite the town's full-steam-ahead attitude toward drilling on Forest Service land, this costly effort will probably never go anywhere. In my view, the Diamond Star Citizens' Action Coalition will never allow any exploratory drilling around their own water supply.
Several of the letter writers attacking CAC had their names and e-mail addresses on the infamous and bitter e-mail, attacking the US Forest Service, circulated by a councilman. We understand that there is a letter-writing committee of eight people who are intent on attacking anyone who expresses concern about the water issue and Main Street redevelopment project. The same names appear frequently.
I would like to ask all letter writers from both sides to please refrain from mentioning individual names. This is getting to be a very petty and mean-spirited, name-calling campaign. We don't need that. We need an assured water supply.
I can tell you that CAC members and most Payson citizens would feel a great relief if our town council would find that supply first, before establishing brand new subdivisions.
Asking Payson residents to conserve, raising their water rates, and putting restrictions on water usage are measures that are being implemented right now. I believe those measures are a means of reallocating our water supply to feed growth.
Again, let's get the water first. That's all the very simple, very "legal" water petition is asking.