The town has a water study agreement with the United States Bureau of Water Reclamation.
The agreement is the product of two years of work by the town's water department and the BWR.
Approved at the Dec. 12 council meeting, the town's share of the cost is set at $150,000 -- $50,000 per year for three years.
Approving the agreement, the council also approved the study plan for the project.
The study will identify and compile past water studies and supply efforts; identify and quantify local water supply needs into the future, for not only Payson, but for Pine/Strawberry and other outlying areas; and identify appropriate new water supply projects.
The primary goal is finding new water supplies and getting federal assistance in their construction.
Buzz Walker, director of the town's public works department, said the study would provide, "Technical assistance, the opportunity for needed funding and vetting through the (application) process."
As presented, the study will accomplish the following:
- Identify needs, objectives, constraints and opportunities relating to water supplies available to northern Gila County communities.
- Identify and include stakeholders to the extent appropriate for this study.
- Identify a comprehensive range of alternatives designed to meet the water supply needs of northern Gila County communities that will take full advantage of identified opportunities within the identified constraints.
- Present the most cost-effective set of alternatives to alleviate identified problems.
The study area includes Payson, Strawberry, and Pine.
The town's $150,000 share of the total cost will primarily come from in-kind contributions to the project.
In a related area, the council was not ready to approve the proposed water conservation ordinance.
This ordinance would require various levels of conservation, based on the amount of water available for use, not the amount of rainfall received.
It also would require some water conservation measures be included in new construction and some commercial retrofitting.
The council wanted information from its building advisory board regarding the construction and retrofitting requirements, and firm numbers in regard to the costs with which residents and builders would be burdened.
Councilor Dick Wolfe pressed for the cost figures and said, "The enforcement concerns me. It will be worthless without enforcement."
A third water-related issue addressed by the council Dec. 12, was the authorization to hire a company to take over the maintenance of the town's water storage tanks.
The project was put out to bid and the only response was from Utility Service Company, Inc., based in Georgia, but with offices in California and elsewhere. The cost the first year will be $86,754, with a varying amount of expense in future years, depending on the work needed.