On Dec. 7, Lynn Godfrey, chairman of the mayor's water task force, presented the task force report. In part, he said, "The town is essentially at safe yield, continued growth will lead to disaster."
"If you say you are going to start building houses at the rate of 250 units per year, I go negative on my safe yield," Godfrey said. "If you do nothing, the disaster point is 2025. That's the point at which all wells are dry and you're dead in the water. Obviously, something's got to be done."
"Let's say we turn the Tower Well on in 2007. Now we're back to safe yield until 2010," he said, plugging in the appropriate numbers on his spreadsheet model. "What we gain by turning the Tower Well on is to buy some time. That time dang well better be used wisely."
It should also be noted that a recent seven-day pump test on the Tower Well produced 530 gpm not the 1,500 gpm that has been erroneously stated by some. That 1,500 gpm is the possible amount of water that might be produced by all the wells in Star Valley.
Lynn Godfrey stated several times that the number of units of housing must be set in stone, as it is vital in the calculations.
The big question to the council is: Why did the majority approve the building of 250 units per year?
Back in 1988, I was looking for a retirement location. We first chose Cambria Pines, a town on the California coast, just below Hearst Castle. At that time, the town was very much comparable to Payson, made up mostly of retired folks and tourism was the big engine driving the economy. Cambria Pines is one of the most beautiful areas in California, with rolling hills and tall pines that meet the ocean. The big catch is there is very little water. There was a moratorium on building no more than 120 units per year.
There were no available tracts, only single lots scattered about the town area. The waiting list went into the hundreds. The list was so long that one would have had to wait for several years to obtain a building permit. We gave up and moved to Pine instead.
There is a lesson to be learned from all of this. I hope those in charge of our future have the guts to do the right thing and not lead our town into a disaster.
Ed Welge, Payson
Editor's note: This letter was shortened to fit within the 400-word limit for Letters to the Editor.