Water Task Force Announces Mission, Need For Volunteers

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Lynn Godfrey, a retired nuclear engineer, said his goal as chairman of the Mayor's Water Task Force is threefold: Reestablish public trust, determine the amount of water underneath Payson and how much it will cost to manage and transport that water.

"We're overlapping a lot of what's being overdone because part of our charter is to reestablish a trust factor," Godfrey said. "When (Public Works Director Buzz Walker) stands up and says something at least half the population won't believe him, no matter what he says, and you can't run a city like that."

Godfrey held an informal press conference on water task force progress for local media in the living room of his Payson home Thursday.

The loose network of committee members, he said, will collect, not judge, the numbers put out by the town and other agencies.

"When something comes out, it will be in a form that can be audited," Godfrey said. "Data is data. People start to manipulate it and that's where the disagreements come."

For now, Godfrey seeks retired professionals -- a cost accountant, cost analyst, design engineers (civil, mechanical, chemical), mathematician and statistician -- who can help create the panel's technical process.

The group will analyze its options: The economics of the Blue Ridge reservoir, forest drilling, increased impact fees and wastewater reclamation.

Out of about 30 individuals on the task force roster, just a handful possess the expertise and skills required for such a technical, data-intense undertaking, he said.

"The beauty of this situation is there is a such a huge mass of data available."

Days after mayor Bob Edwards took office in May, he began fulfilling one of the promises of his campaign: Gather and present information regarding civic issues -- such as streets, housing and water -- to the council.

Over the ensuing months, he established ad hoc committees and appointed local residents to head those groups.

"I had an extended conversation (with Edwards) about what this involved," Godfrey said. "I asked him what areas I would not be allowed to expose or go into -- all the kinds of constraints that are typically imposed on these types of things.

"In every case the answer was, no restraints, no restrictions: ‘You can go where you want, talk to who you want -- if you have any trouble getting access city-wise, let me know.'"

The details of the water task forces haven't been as forthcoming, and the identities of the group members are still unclear.

"Most of these guys don't want to be answering their telephone all the time," Godfrey said.

"So they're saying, ‘Hey, I'll be willing to do this, but I want to do my thing.' And so I have hesitated to put out all their names, based on this request."

Water studies

Studying the availability and accessibility of water, especially in the Southwest, is nothing new. The Mayor's Water Task Force is one element of current and past information-gathering efforts.

To estimate the groundwater supply in Star Valley, the Town of Payson agreed to pay for a safe-yield study, currently underway, not to exceed $50,000.

"I continually hear the words ‘deep water' and ‘shallow water'," said Star Valley Mayor Chuck Heron at the Aug. 3 Payson Town Council meeting. "I have never yet seen any kind of proof of deep water. It's conjecture.

"I hope it's there for the good of all of us, but I would also caution you, don't bank on deep water."

The safe-yield study, Edwards said to the planning and zoning commission Aug. 21, "is going to mainly tell us about the surface water, not about the deep water. It's going to tell us about the rainfall recharge not the recharge a lot of people feel comes in off the northeast and goes deep."

That report, with a completion deadline of Dec. 31, 2006, joins two other recent surveys of the aquifer underneath Star Valley.

Other studies

In 2004, developer Mike Horton commissioned Phoenix-based Southwest Ground-water Consultants to conduct the testing of a well in Star Valley at a cost of $28,000.

A year later, a group of Star Valley water activists, countered with separate findings from a different consulting firm, Levine-Fricke of Scottsdale.

Then, in July, the town approved a $200,000 budget allocation for an updated safe-yield study of Payson. This builds on two other reports compiled in the early and late 1990s.

The Town of Payson also presents two annual studies -- the water status report and a water quality report -- at a combined cost of approximately $8,000 a year, according to Public Works Director Buzz Walker.

Adding more data to the mix, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and a consortium of agencies -- Gila County, the Town of Payson, the Salt River Project, the University of Arizona and other state entities -- are in the process of finalizing a three-year analysis called the Mogollon Rim Water Resources Management Study.

Its findings will parallel on a regional level the goals of the local task force.

"Where are we now?" Godfrey said. "How much water have we identified? Then you have to determine how much water do we need, based on whatever the political folks decide we're going to be able to build. What does that add up to and that's what we need."

To join volunteer your expertise to the water task force, contact Godfrey at (928) 468-7416.

Updated list of Mayoral Task Forces

Airport Task Force
Chair: Dick Mumma
Members: Jim Garner, Beth Myers, Dennis Satterfield, Rory and Donna Hansen, Nancy Ward, Gary Spragins, Richard Nun

Affordable Housing
Chair: Rick Croy
Members: Larry Cornell, Mike Hughes, Jerry Holland, Donovan Thornhill, Sue Yale, Bob Charameda, Julie Ruttle, Ross Hage

Beautification Committee
Chair: Linda Parsons
Members: Diane Baran, Nancy Cox, Roger Smoot, Ed Jones, Vern Greenwell, Barbara Sapp, Mike and Pat Voden, Barbara Wright, Margaret Holmes

Citizens' Generated Goals
Chair: Lew Levenson
Members: Kathy Patrick-Baas, Gene Sampson, Jay Hopkins

Economic Development
Chair: Roy T. Bergold, Jr.
Members: No list provided.

Ethics Task Force
Chair: Al Poskanzer
Members: John Watts, Al Hurd, Dick Reese, Jerry Peyton, Mikey Kerns

Finance Task Force
Chair: Jonnie King
Members: Pete Brotz, Ken Kollack, Tim and Nancy Nelson, Dick Krugh, Bruce Hopkins, Barbara Ganz, Hal Baas, Dick Von Barandy, Richard Linfors, Guy Pfister, Lynne Golliglee, Robert Henley

Firewise Community Task Force
Chair: Monte McCord
Members: Paul Gonnerman, Russ and Mary Goddard, George Yost

Policies and Procedures
Chair: Penny Dorgan
Members: Lucy Briggs

Public Safety Task Force
Chair: Jim Hinton
Members: Pat Carr, Ross Skinner, Kurt Longfellow, Tony LeGault, Tom Buckner, Don Parker, Ross Robertson

Water Task Force
Chair: Lynn Godfrey
Members: No list provided.

Water Conservation
Chair: Gary Bedsworth
Members: Judy Shafferkoetter, Lois Hurd, Bruce Wales

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