Opening The Discussion On Payson's Water Problem



After reading that Payson has a "water problem," it occurred to me that perhaps this column and the "I'm Listening" blog could offer a service by providing a place where Paysonites could discuss what they think can be, or should be, done about it.

There are three approaches to handling a limited water supply: Conservation, managed growth and discovery of new resources. You may discuss all of them.

Let's begin, though, with the most basic question of all.

Who owns the water in Payson?

That includes groundwater, effluent and any new resources such as Blue Ridge.

I'll offer you a general principle, and you folks in Payson can share your opinions about it on the blog or in letters to the editor.

Here's a general principle that can serve as a starting point for discussion: All of the water in Payson belongs to all of the people of Payson.

Sounds simple, doesn't it?

But it isn't quite as simple as it appears.

It implies, for one thing, required conservation of all water resources, even private wells, when necessary.

And other things are implied as well.

It's really important to agree on some broad guiding principle before you start discussions because it will affect everything else you decide.

Notice, by the way, that I keep saying "you" and "your."

That's because I don't live in Payson and I will generally stay out of the discussions except for starting a new one each time the current one seems to be about finished.

Other than that, I am an outsider and will respect that fact.

A broad general principle for equitable water use is critical.

You don't want Payson to suffer from the kind of problem we have in Pine, where the County has approved separate water districts for private developments, which do not have to conserve water.

In Pine, the private developments pump as much water as they please. When they pump so much that the water company has to truck in water, only those people connected to the water company have to pay the added cost. In essence, the private developments use the water and the people in Pine pay for it. That is very wrong.

To begin, the question is: Do you agree with the broad general principle that all of the water in Payson belongs to all of the people of Payson?

If you agree, why?

If you don't, why not?

I thought that you could search for some kind of consensus among Paysonites on that point, and on other points as well. And I hoped that you would eventually present all the ideas and suggestions and guidelines that you come up with to the mayor and the town council. That way, your elected officials will have input from the citizens of Payson, which should be of help to them.

I'm hoping that one or more Paysonites will volunteer to collect comments and ideas and suggestions and whatnot, and present them to the town council when you are done.

Would you like to do that? If you would, just say so. This could become a grassroots effort to help Payson's water plan evolve as needed, with citizen support.

-- Comment on this column on Tom Garrett's blog, I'm Listening, at

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