After Safe Yield Study Released, Towns Should Return To The Table

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We were disappointed to watch the failure of a water agreement between Payson and Star Valley.

We have been covering the various drafts of this water agreement since early November 2006 when members of the Payson and Star Valley councils met for the first time to find some common ground on the Tower Well.

The well has a capacity of 530 gallons per minute. Terra Capital purchased the well and 400 gallons per minute of its capacity. The Town of Payson then purchased the excess capacity of 130 gpm from Roy Haught and George Randall for $750,000 with payments spread over about an eight-year period.

The headlines since November have read like the coverage of fragile, unpredictable peace talks.

In the Nov. 23 Payson Roundup, Star Valley Mayor Chuck Heron, called the first draft of the water agreement "flawed and presumptuous."

In early December, Payson came back with another draft, which it passed on Dec. 13. Star Valley made revisions to the agreement and passed their own version on Jan. 4.

The Star Valley version of the agreement was returned to the Payson Town Council, and when Payson Mayor Bob Edwards read the revisions he said it strayed from the original agreement so far that it was unacceptable. He called the discussion a "waste of time" and what could have become the beginning of a new era for both towns fell flat.

To quote Edwards, we believe the Town of Star Valley is being shortsighted on this issue.

The time for arguing over the ownership of the Tower Well has passed. Now is the time to focus on negotiating a no-harm policy for usage.

When Edwards rejected the recent Star Valley version of the water agreement, he cited a specific change that strayed from the spirit of the original negotiation: "When Star Valley asked the Town of Payson to undertake a safe yield study, they agreed that Clear Creek was a qualified company and that they would abide by the results. Now, they want the right to veto the results if they disagree with them."

In good faith, the Town of Payson is paying for a safe yield study in an attempt to be a good neighbor in regards to use of the Tower Well. We look forward to the results of this study. Regardless of the results, we would like to see both towns abide by those findings and use that knowledge to move forward in a productive way.

Once the study has been completed, the towns should return to the table.

Any negotiation is a balance of benefits for both parties. Star Valley needs to bend, just as Payson has bent on this matter.

Let the cooler heads prevail after the experts have spoken.

It is important that this water agreement is not abandoned.

What happens next sets a precedent for relations between the two towns. We are going to be neighbors for a long time.

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