To support continued growth and because current water supplies may not be adequate for that purpose, the Payson Town Council is now proceeding with arrangements to take water from Star Valley. People of Star Valley, Diamond Point, and probably a majority from Payson, oppose this action of the town council.
Taking water from Star Valley to support Payson growth is wrong. This action involves unacceptable risks. If, after Payson acquires the water rights, someone drills a deeper well, they may take the water Payson has paid for. Another possibility is that the use of the water could be tied up for years by expensive litigation. Whether it is morally right to take Star Valley water and insist Payson has no obligation to provide water to Star Valley when its water supply is exhausted is another issue.
Payson has enough water for its present population. It does not need to spend its resources on another unsuccessful, risky effort to obtain more water. The town council is obviously afraid of a vote of the people on this issue. Otherwise, they would not have successfully, at this point, opposed a referendum proposed by 1,900 Payson residents.
This issue is not going to quietly disappear. In the next council election, candidates will certainly be asked to explain their positions on taking Star Valley water.
One argument we frequently hear in support of the growth objective is that a town must grow or die. I have seen many prosperous towns in the United States and abroad that have had stable populations for decades and centuries. Payson's only prospect of dying, or severely declining in population, is if it outgrows its water supply.
Payson has other possibilities of additional water supplies that have not been seriously considered. Since Payson is committed to growth with a poor record of success in securing more water, the town should develop a contingency plan for the distribution of water when the supply fails to meet town needs. The value of such a plan is that it would relieve people of some of their anxiety about a water crisis. Some people have left Payson because of their lack of confidence in the ability of the town council to stop growth prior to a water crisis.
Jim Winter, Payson