Payson's Future Hangs In The Balance

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Editor:

You have only until June 15 to let the U.S. Forest Service know whether or not you favor the proposed "Payson Diamond Rim Water Exploration Project" -- a program for approximately 28 test well sites to determine the availability of groundwater on Forest Service lands for possible future use by the town of Payson.

At a meeting held in Rim Country Middle School gymnasium May 18, this project was vocally opposed by many of our neighbors in Star Valley, Diamond Point and in other surrounding communities. Given their emotional reactions, you can be sure many of these people are expressing their views to the Forest Service. Most have existing wells that they feel might be threatened by Payson's water needs.

However, Payson is already operating within Stage 3 water restraints -- under which we cannot fill a child's wading pool, wash our cars or water native vegetation. Even before the new restrictions, the average person living in Payson was only using about one-third as much water as the per capita usage in the Greater Phoenix area.

What are our alternatives? To opt for "no growth"? To declare a moratorium on new building, hurting perhaps the most vital part of our economy? The possibilities appear rather limited.

A great deal of water flows out from the Rim, gathering and moving along numerous fault lines on the Forest Service land on its way to lower elevations. Should Payson have access to some of this water or should it all be left to people outside of Payson who already have existing wells or may drill new ones? Is there a basis for compromise and ways to protect those who have existing wells while providing for some of Payson's needs?

We urge you to express your views (including your full name and mailing address) by e-mail to rbyers@fs.fed.us or to send your thoughts in writing to:

United States Forest Service

Tonto National Forest

Payson Ranger District

Attn: Mr. Rodney E. Byers

Payson, AZ 85541

Payson's future hangs in the balance. Don't let decisions be made by default.

Don Crowley and Gordon Metcalf, Co-chairs, Citizens for Better Payson Government

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