Let The Town Drill In Forest

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Next Tuesday at 6 p.m. the latest round in the War of the Wells will unfold in the Rim Country Middle School Cafeteria.

At a public scoping meeting sponsored by the Payson Ranger District, the town of Payson will square off with the Diamond Star Citizens Action Coalition over whether the town should be allowed to drill 28 exploratory test wells to confirm the presence, and determine the characteristics, of an aquifer believed to be located at the base of the Diamond Rim, about two miles northeast of Star Valley.

When the project was first proposed in 2001, the district asked the town to undertake extensive fault mapping of the area before a decision was made. As part of the process, the town conducted a non-invasive subsurface survey that utilized electromagnetic sounding techniques to determine which faults were likely to hold water and which would probably be naturally sealed off from aquifers serving nearby wells.

The town used that information to further refine the location of the exploratory sites, and that information will be presented at the Tuesday meeting.

The coalition's objection to the project is based on the unproven premise that Star Valley and Diamond Point Shadows wells will be drawn down if and when the town starts taking water from the Diamond Rim area.

We suggest that the members of the coalition pull their heads out of their wells and take a look at the big picture.

You can blame it on the drought. You can blame it on the geology of the area. You can blame it on Salt River Project. But the fact remains -- the entire area has a water problem, and it's likely to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

Here's the best-case scenario: the town is allowed to drill the test wells, and a new source of water is found that will, once and for all, end our water woes -- not just Payson's, but Star Valley's and Diamond Point Shadow's as well.

The Payson Ranger District has been meticulous about taking all concerns and ramifications into account. One of the primary goals of drilling the exploratory wells, for example, is to determine if nearby wells are impacted.

If they are, the district will most assuredly not allow the new wells to be put into production. As town Public Works Director Buzz Walker put it, "Who would get upset about real-world knowledge?"

The town has done everything the district has asked it to do. Now it's time to find out what's in the ground under Diamond Rim.

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