Failure To Define Terms Source Of Dispute In Water Debate



Ralph Bossert, in his letter on the subject of "Who really owns the water," published this past Friday, asked, "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."

Now, just what has he said here? We have, first, "the water under Payson."

Then, we have "the water produced by (their) wells."

So just which is it -- the "water under" or the "water produced"?

Of course, we all know, or think we know, what Mr. Bossert meant. This sort of thing is the gateway to almost all disputes: The failure to define terms. What we say he means is exactly what each of us wishes to hear on the subject.

The water naturally and quietly lying in the aquifers belongs to no one, just as the air we breathe belongs to no one. Note the insertion of the word "naturally"."

Then, once water is produced at the surface, what responsibility does the producer, the "owner" of that water acquire to deal with the same after it has been "used" and perhaps polluted? I imagine green grass for lawyers.

Moreover, what is the producer's responsibility to deal with the upkeep and maintenance of wells while in use, and the decommissioning of the same should they fall into disuse? More green grass. A big issue is this, as some producers and politicos have found out to their chagrin -- millions in damages (inter-aquifer pollution).

Mr. Bossert, formula-answers are not going to work. A reasonable and just person should care less for 17th century water protocol. Instead, we need to work out these new issues fairly for all sides, leaving the sport of "gotcha" (greed) behind.

Allen N. Wollscheidt, Payson

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