Water Should Be Town's Priority



The candidate forum (at Payson High School) was encouraging, in that all candidates, and a majority of the public, finally seem to be convinced that future availability of water is Payson's number one problem, and the number two problem, whatever that may be, is way behind water availability.

Now that we appear to have that common understanding, it would be helpful if we all started with a common set of facts.

A. We have been mining (depleting our water supply) since at least 1999.

B. By Dec. 1, 2004, we had drawn the level of the 12 major wells in Payson down 35.6 percent. In gallons, it was probably even more, as the amount of solid granite, in the Payson aquifers, becomes more preponderant the deeper you go.

C. During 2005, with more than a 20 percent increase in rainfall, over the 30-year average, we regained 8.3 percent in well depth. Eight of twelve wells regained storage level, and four wells continued to decline.

D. This left us with a net 20 percent decline in well depth over the last six years.

E. We are half way through the November-April period, when our aquifers are replaced, with absolutely no moisture at all. This does not auger well for water replacement in 2006.

F. Although Payson's water conservation program has been outstanding compared to other Arizona cities, we had no further improvement in 2005. We remain at 87 gallons per capita per day.

To any objective person, the above statistics say that Payson cannot support its present water demands, let alone any increased demands for whatever reason or for whatever purposes.

There is undoubtedly adequate additional water available in the Tonto National Forest, within a 15-mile radius of Payson. However, due to political and bureaucratic reasons, which we have never attacked aggressively enough, we are precluded from pursuing this avenue of town growth.

We are promised Blue Ridge Reservoir water at some indefinite time in the future, and at considerably greater cost than Tonto National Forest water. In any event, at the rate we have made progress in the last 10 years, we are probably some 7 to 15 years away from any substantial amount of new water, from any source.

I hear that we have some 1500 sites in the town limits that we have essentially promised water. Water that we obviously don't have, and won't have till we get back to normal rainfall for several years. When will that be?

We are not doing present residents, or future residents, any favors by continuing to build houses or businesses for which we have inadequate water, for the foreseeable future.

In fact, to re-emphasize the stark reality of the situation, we don't have enough water in the aquifers under Payson to support the present population, until the weather pattern changes, for an extended period.

These are all unadjusted, historical facts secured from the Town of Payson Water Department. The Water Department is quite open about giving anyone all the facts necessary to make your own determination. Just ask them.

Now, with these facts, do you want to continue trusting the value of your properties to the present town administration who appear to be in a state of denial? Or, do you want new leadership that will realistically tailor town growth to a planned, aggressive and dedicated program to secure more water for Payson -- leadership that truly puts more water for Payson as its number one objective?

Dan Adams, Payson

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