Water Conservation Ordinance Also Applies To Private Wells

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Water from private wells will be subject to the same conservation restrictions as water obtained from the public water system if the Payson Town Council approves revisions proposed by Public Works Director Buzz Walker.

The council will take up the issue and several other revisions Walker wants at its regular meeting at 6 p.m. at Payson Town Hall.

Among the requests Walker will submit is to draft an ordinance that would clarify the town's water conservation laws. A new ordinance, if adopted, would state that the conservation ordinances will apply to all water within the town, whether it is obtained from the public system or a private well.

Walker said the he expected his request to be somewhat controversial because there are private well users who do not want town government to have a say in their water consumption.

He contends the original ordinance drafted two years ago was intended to regulate both private and public systems, but needs more powerful wording.

He also said all ground water in Arizona belongs to the state and using it is a privilege, rather than a right, of those who have wells on their property.

His request to the council, he said, would not lead to placing water meters on private wells to check usage.

"That's a state function, not a town one," he said.

Water conservation infractions are most often reported to the town by neighbors who witness wrongdoings, Walker said. He estimates there are about 300 to 400 private wells in use.

Water wasters

It isn't just private well owners who will be impacted by water conservation revisions the town council will consider Thursday evening.

Other revisions Walker is proposing include:

  • Eliminating the Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) designation for hotel rooms with spas, essentially banning them.

"In our ERU ordinance, it says under certain circumstances what an ERU is -- a single family house, 2.2 hotel rooms, three nursing home beds, etc.," Walker said. "It had a reference in there for 1.4 spa rooms in a motel using as much as a house in a month, so that's 1 ERU.

"Under the new conservation ordinance, it says that we can prohibit anything we consider a water waste. Well I'm trying to figure out where the beneficial use of that water is. Somebody coming up from the Valley puts 200 gallons of water in a spa, stays in there for 15 minutes, and then, due to health laws, has to dump that down the sewer. It just sends a horrible message."

  • Defining water waste as any non-beneficial use of water as determined by the public works director.
  • Prohibiting the construction of new outdoor swimming pools and spas adjacent to motel/hotel rooms, as well as the use of evaporative coolers in buildings larger than 3,000 square feet.

A 100,000 square-foot building uses 200,000 gallons of water a month when it is evaporative cooled. While the ban will only apply to larger buildings, evaporative cooling is a water waster in any size building, according to Walker.

If the council goes along with Walker's suggestions, the town attorney will to make the changes and bring them back to the council for a final OK.

Event center proposal

Carpenter will ask the council to allow the Tempe firm of Nielsen-Fackler Planning & Development to publish a request for proposal for the redevelopment for the 36-acre event enter.

At the April 22 town council meeting, the council approved a contract with Nielsen-Fackler.

At a public meeting May 11, Nielsen Fackler gathered information to help develop a concept for the property. The concept includes building a hotel and conference center just east of the event center, an amphitheater on the north side and a cover for the arena.

"This could lead to a higher and better use of the 36 acres," Carpenter said.

The town manager also stressed that the concept designed by Neilson-Fackler would not adversely effect either Payson rodeo or other equestrian events now housed in the event center.

The concept, as put together by Neilsen-Fackler, would not require any local tax monies, Carpenter said.

Other business

The council also will consider an application for a liquor license filed by the new owners of Fargo's Steakhouse.

A second reading and a public hearing will be held on an ordnance that would amend the zoning code for property owned by Patrick and Barbara Underwood. The zone change would allow the Underwoods to subdivide a plot of land off Tyler Parkway into 14 lots.

Among the other items on the consent agenda is a resolution to accept a public pedestrian easement from Sawmill Crossing and a request from the public works engineer to award a $33,812 repaving contract for Saddle Lane from McLane to Saddle Blanket Road.

The Payson Town Council meets in its chambers at town hall, 303 N. Beeline Highway, beginning at 6 p.m.

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