Pine/Strawberry: What Water Problem?



Let's take a fair and honest look at what's going on in Pine (again) by asking ourselves a few simple questions.

1. Does Pine run out of water anymore? No.

2. Why not? Pine Water Company is required by the Corporation Commission to truck in water as needed.

3. How much does trucking cost the average Pine household? The average Pine household uses three to four thousand gallons each month and pays between $30 and $40 each year for trucking costs.

4. The suggestion has again been made that the people of Pine (and Strawberry) buy Pine Water Company. What would it cost them? Last time, the quoted price was $8 million.

5. What would buying Pine Water Company cost each household in Pine and Strawberry in taxes to pay back the necessary loan? Not counting interest, roughly $2,000 per household. With interest, possibly three to four times that amount.

6. For that same $2,000, for how many years could the average household pay a water hauling surcharge of $30 to $40 per year? For 50 to 60 years.

7. Would there be any other drawbacks to public ownership of Pine Water Company? Yes, the Arizona Corporation Commission would no longer exercise authority over the water company. There would be no one to prohibit overdevelopment by limiting the number of new meters per month.

8. Is there a new well in Pine? Not really, a 1,200 foot deep drill hole is not a "well" until it is cased, at great expense.

9. If the Pine/Strawberry Water Improvement District spends $300,000 to have Brooke Utilities put in a new well in Pine, how much would that cost each household? Roughly $60 to $75, or what they would have spent on the water hauling surcharge in two years.

10. Having said all that, do Ray Pugel and Robert Randall deserve a pat on the back for finding new water in Pine? You bet they do.

11. Reasonably, what should they expect to do with their water? Negotiate the sale of it to Pine Water.

12. Any other comments? Yes, one for Ray Pugel. In all fairness, Ray, if you are truly anxious to see local ownership of Pine Water Company, there is nothing stopping you from buying it yourself, repairing the infrastructure you keep complaining about, casing your drill hole, tying the resulting well into the system, turning Pine into a water-rich community, getting approval from the Corporation Commission for a fair and equitable charge for your water, convincing the Commission that the water supply is adequate to allow additional development, making a tidy profit off new construction as a developer and real estate agent, and living happily ever after.

But, come on, Ray. Quit trying to convince the people of Strawberry and Pine that they should buy Pine Water, thereby raising their own taxes and placing themselves under the very real threat of overdevelopment by eliminating the protection the Corporation Commission now affords them.

No matter how you look at it, that's not a smart thing for them to do.

And it is never going to happen.

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