In the late '90s, Mayor Vern Stiffler's council passed an ordinance requiring developers to bring to the town a new source of water for any development over 20 homes. The issue had much more to do with stopping growth than it did with water.
The first developer faced with this growth stopper was Dan Hellman of Stone Creek. Hellman drilled a well at Turtle Rock and came up with water, lots of it, first thought to be 400 GPM (gallons per minute). After certified testing, Hellman was credited 200 GPM.
Buzz Walker, our water superintendent, frequently takes a lot of flack. Let me tell you, he always comes out ahead. I know the result of negotiations with Hellman; Stone Creek is a 123-lot subdivision; he was allowed 123 GPM to build 123 homes and Walker got 200 GPM. Years later Walker revealed 1 GPM produces 2.5 ERUs. Do the math, the Town of Payson came up with surplus water enough to build an additional 184 homes.
Every time a developer provides a new source of water, it gets turned over to the town, at no cost to them; the town always comes up with a surplus.
On a later occasion, I rode in a town van on a business trip to the Valley with then-mayor Ray Schum, Buzz Walker and others. The conversation went like this:
Ray: "Buzz, I hear you made a good hit last week."
Ray: "How big?"
Buzz: "400 GPM!"
Ray: "Wow, how many homes will that supply?"
Buzz: "Oh, 1,000."
Ray: "Maybe we are being overly concerned with growth control."
How many other water jewels are there that we don't know about? I have only given you facts from firsthand knowledge. Further, I know our town water system is a model for small towns around the nation. We have clean, clear drinkable water. We have greater water storage per capita than most comparable towns. We have fire flow and water conservation measures in place that are second-to-none, yet we have self-appointed critics and the clueless who want us to close the gates. The rules are already in place to prevent us from being over subscribed for water. If our council approves more housing starts than our safe water yield, Buzz Walker's screams will be heard loud and clear.
Our current growth rate is 2.9 percent. We have Mr. Edwards and his group who want to control explosive growth and determine what the water situation is. You stated, Mr. Edwards, "I wanted to stay out of politics." That's good; I hope I can help you stay out until you and your gang get up to speed.
Bob McQueen, Payson