Developer Creates $100,000 Fund To Assist Star Valley Well Conversions

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A $100,000 fund has been created to assist Star Valley homeowners in converting from private wells to Brooke Utilities if their wells are adversely impacted by the pumping of water to Payson by local developer G. Michael Horton.

Half of the money for the fund is being contributed by Horton and the other half by Roy Haught and George Randall. The town of Payson is paying Haught and Randall $750,000 for water from their Star Valley well.

Horton and Payson Councilor Robert Henley presented the plan to the Roundup on Wednesday. Henley said the plan was his idea, acting as a private citizen rather than a council member.

Under terms of the plan "any degradation of well capacity directly resulting from the town of Payson's use of the RH (Randall-Haught)-2 well in Star Valley" will make the affected property owner eligible for up to $2,000 to connect to the local public water system.

The fund will also pay $75 for water quality testing of individual wells for six months as of Aug. 19.

Horton predicted that no wells in Star Valley will be impacted by the RH-2 well.

"I don't think anyone will ever need to access this fund," he said.

The Diamond Star Water Coalition, the group that opposes taking water from Star Valley to Payson, issued a statement Thursday rejecting the program.

"It's worthless," Chris Benjamin, coalition board member, said.

He cited the fact that Brooke Utilities doesn't even serve the area impacted by the Randall-Haught well.

"And even if they could be hooked up, they would have a water bill that they didn't have before," Benjamin said.

Safe yield emergency

Henley also told the Roundup that he would consider an emergency measure that would expedite a safe yield study of the Diamond Star area to determine how much water can be safely extracted.

"I don't like emergencies, but in this case, in order to not have to sit around and wait 30 days to get the go ahead, let's just go ahead and get it done," Henley said. "If we have to do it as an emergency, that might be worthwhile."

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