Kudos to the Payson Roundup for publishing the articles on the water supply issue for Payson and Northern Gila County. With the usage of water in Payson now estimated at only "safe yield" by the Payson Water Department, population at 15,000 and rapidly growing with 200-250 annual residential building permits, the question of the availability of a secure future source of water to support this growth for the citizenry of Payson becomes even more severe. Particularly if the "safe yield" turns negative, meaning we are using more water from the aquifers annually than nature provides.
The recent article in the Roundup by Supervisor Ron Christensen details the complexity of the issue. The list of players including the SRP, Federal Forest Service, Indian Tribes, Gila County, and the communities of Payson, Pine, Strawberry, Star Valley, etc. is daunting as to how and when will anything be permanently accomplished for Payson. One thing we do know is that due to SRP's ownership of the watershed where Payson and surrounding communities reside, the bulk of the water from the watershed ends up supporting the Phoenix population including swimming pools, golf courses and artificial lakes.
The need for communication and negotiation between the "players" is going to be orchestrated by "whom"? Gila County, the town of Payson, a federal agency? Will our local, state and federal elected officials take an active role or is the "potato" too hot? Should a separate entity be created, funded and staffed with the sole purpose of seeking alternatives and solutions from the "players" within a reasonable timetable? The alternatives for solution, although costly, are many if the cooperation of the "players" could be accomplished.
Perhaps the only current solution is funding for "Raindancers" in the hope that their activity will increase the annual rainfall in Payson and replenish the ground water aquifer levels.
Jim Hippel, Payson