Regarding The Question, 'Who Owns The Water?'



In the Dec. 29 Payson Roundup, Tom Garrett wrote an article about water.

It comes as no surprise since water seems to be the leading topic of most editorials in the Rim Country these days. In his discussion of water under Payson, Garrett offers the broad general principle that "all the water in Payson belongs to all of the people in Payson." He then uses that principle to support the rest of his opinions regarding the use (or misuse) of water in Payson, Pine, and the rest of the Rim Country.

If we lived in a socialistic system, I believe all the water in Payson would belong to the people in Payson. Fortunately, we live in a democratic system instead. In the United States, we all have the opportunity to take risks in hope of receiving rewards. It's called the Free Enterprise System and it's part of what makes our country so great.

U.S. Water Laws are generally derived from an old English rule, "They should take who have the power, and they should keep who can. Any owner can sink a well to any depth, even if it deprives his neighbor of water, and that no recourse through legal action, can be applied."

The Rim Country is not in an Active Management Area (AMA). This means we are not subject to all the rules and regulations imposed by the Arizona Department of Water Resources on AMAs. I believe that to be a good thing. A.R.S. 45-453 states, among other things, that in areas outside of AMAs, a person may withdraw and use groundwater for reasonable and beneficial use.

Who owns the water under Payson? The simple answer is the people who took the risk to drill and develop the wells own the water produced by their wells.

Reused water, on the other hand, is owned by the Northern Gila County Sanitary District. They own the sewage collection and treatment system and they own the system to deliver the effluent to their users. Don't they deserve to earn a return on their investment?

Who owns the water under Pine? Same answer. Two entrepreneurs have spent significant sums of money to drill deep and found significant amounts of water.

By the way, Payson's "water problem" the local papers keep referring to is not caused by an inadequate supply. It is caused by our current administration's reluctance to use water physically and legally available to the citizens of Payson.

Ralph Bossert, Payson

Editor's note: This letter was shortened to fit within the 400-word limit for Letters to the Editor.

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