In the Spring of 2001, the town of Payson published an "Update on Town Government" that dealt quite thoroughly with Payson's water situation. This report included recent history on 12 representative well sites, including depth to water level readings.
I have periodically checked with the Water Department on the current readings of these same wells, and reported them to the Roundup on occasion.
The most recent check, January 2004, does not contain good news. Only 11 of the original wells are still being used, and the average drop in water depth in the last 18 months is nearly 15 feet.
This loss is particularly disturbing, because for the last year we have had nearly an average amount of rainfall. Also, during the last year, the town of Payson undertook a number of successful programs to reduce water usage. However, when all is said and done, we consumed considerably more water than nature replenished.
Of even more concern are the figures for the last 57 months. During this period, the 11 wells are down 31.5 feet on average.
The Southwest Groundwater Study of 1998 told us that once we started to mine water we had from 7 to 15 years before we were in serious trouble. We have already used up 5 of those years. My further concern is that once we find additional water, somewhere, we are probably five years, at the minimum, from getting it to town.
The paper chase, through all the bureaucracies involved, is unimaginable. Just think of Carlota Copper, who has spent nine years and $80 million on a similar pursuit, and haven't turned the first shovel full of dirt yet.
My point is that none of the town establishment is taking this problem seriously enough. They are planning, and working, and spending on all sorts of non-essential projects.
The only essential responsibility the town has is furnishing adequate water. That, we can't do without. We can live with bad streets, without conference centers, multi-event enters, indoor swimming pools, etc., etc., etc., but we can't do without water.
Considering that we are at least five years away from any additional water, it is not too soon to start to get serious about doing something.
Dan Adams, Payson