In a recent article in the US News and World Report, there was a discussion of the problems resulting from the drought in the Western U.S. Many towns are outgrowing their water supply.
Santa Fe, N.M. is a prime example. They have very strict water laws and water police to enforce them. They raised their water rates 40 percent. They have mandatory low-flush toilets. They are doing all the things they can think of to conserve water and are still outgrowing their water supply. The average consumption is 150 gallons per day per person.
When I think of Payson and our water consumption of about 100 gallons of water per person per day, we can be fairly proud of our effort in conservation.
The problem, in my opinion, is largely in growth. I understand what a fine line the town council has between growth and conservation, particularly in these hard economic times. A former council under the direction of Vern Stiffler; however; took a hard line and was farsighted enough to see ahead and slow the growth by a law that all sub-divisions over 20 ERUs would have to find new water that did not infringe on the present supply. This has not destroyed our economic base.
In the town of Payson newsletter of April/June 2001, the Recommended Strategic Plan Update stated, "Until there is a documented surplus, above and beyond the current demand and projected in fill peak water demand, discontinue accepting up to 20 ERUs of new peak month water demand with re-zoning applications. Stipulate that a new supply, sufficient to serve the needs of the development, shall be a pre-requisite condition for approval of re-zoning applications that will increase demand on the community water supply. The town council may waive this requirement for affordable housing and economic development projects".
Since this recommendation was published, several new 20 unit subdivisions were approved for re-zoning. I believe this is the time to take the hard line and follow these recommendations made two years ago.
Council members, How will you vote?
Chuck Hintze, Payson