The Payson Town Council took another step toward solving the town's water problem Thursday evening by hiring a company to devise a plan to recharge wells with excess water from Blue Ridge Reservoir.
Valley-based Hydro-Systems, Inc. (HSI) will provide assistance to the water department in the development of an aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) plan, which will direct excess treated surface water into town wells, using the local groundwater aquifer as a storage vessel.
"This will allow HSI to shift focus from the exploratory wells in the Diamond Rim area to (working on) how we will utilize water from Blue Ridge Reservoir," Public Works Director Buzz Walker told the council last night.
The town's plan is to build a pipeline to carry water from the East Verde River to a proposed water treatment plant on West Houston Mesa Road, across from the new Home Depot under construction.
The town expects Blue Ridge water to create surpluses, which would be pumped into the ground via selected wells, allowing Payson's wells to rest.
"We want to use that excess water by running it through the treatment plant and then putting it underground in the space we made by pumping groundwater out," Walker told the council.
HSI also will deal with chemical issues that could arise when water from two very different sources are mixed. Blue Ridge water is extremely soft, while groundwater is extremely hard.
Among potential problems, the combination could produce a carbonate scale that could shut down town wells, Walker said.
The ASR will also provide a hydraulic barrier to protect existing wells from dry cleaning chemicals that contaminated Main Street years ago.
"We have noticed some traces of contamination because water flows downhill," Walker said. At this point, the contamination is not a hazard, he added.
The public works director also told the council the town was fortunate to secure the services of HSI, "one of the few professional firms associated with this type of program." HSI specializes in water recharge planning.
Walker said he hopes Blue Ridge water reaches the town long before the 10 years some authorities have projected. He said HSI should complete its work within six months of signing the contract with the town.