Water is once again on the table as the town council takes up a petition circulated by the Citizens Awareness Committee and signed by 1,476 residents requesting a moratorium on new subdivisions and land divisions.
The petition, originally presented to the council Oct. 18, specifies that the moratorium remain in place until "the town has an adequate supply of new water."
Councilmember Hoby Herron was finally able to get the item on the council agenda.
"This goes back several months to when I heard (Payson Mayor Ray Schum) on the radio saying a lot of people didn't know what they were signing when they signed the petition, and that nobody on the council had requested it be put on the agenda," Herron said. "I immediately turned to my computer and wrote a memo asking all council members to join me in requesting this be put on the agenda."
At the time, Herron and other members of the council believed it took three council members to get an item on the agenda. An examination of the town code revealed that wasn't the case.
Herron nevertheless decided to wait until the last council meeting of his term May 23 to have the item placed on the agenda, but the council recently voted to cancel that meeting because of the special election scheduled for May 21. Herron filed an immediate request to have the issue placed on the ballot.
"I thought the mayor would kill it, but he didn't," Herron said. "All I'm saying is that the council was derelict in not responding to over 1,400 residents.
Herron believes the town could be very close to "safe yield."
A 200-page study presented to the council April 26 revealed that residents were using more water than projected three years ago. With known supplies, the town can provide water for a population of 18,300 a number town officials expect to reach sometime in the next decade but at current rates of consumption the report says the town's safe yield will be exceeded by the end of 2002. Safe yield, a concept the town uses to manage its water supply, means the amount of groundwater pumped from an aquifer must not exceed the amount that is naturally or artificially recharged.
The town's population as of the 2000 census was 13,620.
"Having enough water for 18,300 people is an assumption based on (a) projection of 89 gallons per capita per day," Mike Ploughe, town hydrogeologist, said. "If we reach 102 (gallons per capita per day) like the new study predicts, then we can only support 16,000 people."
Despite the fact that the town is approaching safe yield faster than predicted, Herron expects the council to take no action Thursday evening.
"They'll probably vote 6-1, maybe 5-2, not to do anything," he said, "but by bringing it to the forefront, maybe the new council will address it."
Also on the agenda Thursday is a request for a special event liquor license for a Rim Country Hospice Foundation fund raiser on Sept. 28.