Water Projects Top Thursday's Council Agenda

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Upcoming water projects fill the agenda during the Payson Town Council's special meeting Thursday, April 6.

Buzz Walker, the town's public works director, will present the department's 2006-2007 capital outlay budget.

"It's a very simple capital budget for the water department," Walker said. "Probably the biggest item is the efforts we will be making on the environmental, engineering and legal aspects of using Blue Ridge water."

Blue Ridge, now known as the C.C. Cragin Reservoir and Dam, tops the evening with a comprehensive overview of its status.

Walker said the project's momentum is reaching a critical mass.

Though several unofficial discussions are pending -- such as preliminary environmental impact and pipe routing considerations -- the town seeks a formal process.

"It's at a very awkward point," Walker said. "We haven't established a contract with SRP and we don't have a funding mechanism, but there are plenty of things to work on."

The Salt River Project (SRP) named the Blue Ridge reservoir after C.C. Cragin, a superintendent who worked for the agency's forerunner in the 1920s.

The Phelps Dodge Corporation created Blue Ridge in the mid-1960s to meet its growing water needs.

Forty years later, in February 2005, SRP acquired Blue Ridge from the mining company after federal legislation (the Gila River Indian Water Rights Settlement) released the basin from private holding.

The current C.C. Cragin project -- 25 miles north of Payson -- has existing infrastructure, including a dam, reservoir, pipelines, pumps, a priming reservoir and a generator, according to SRP.

Local water pundits hope the 3,500 acre-feet of water slated for Payson and Gila County will boost Rim Country's conservation efforts.

But that relief is years and layers of bureaucracy away -- that's why the progress of the C.C. Cragin project is a town priority, Walker said.

Meanwhile, the other items on the department's water budget cover maintenance such as conservation efforts and equipment upkeep.

The special meeting will be held in the council chamber, 303 N. Beeline Highway, beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 6.

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