Pine Water Search Plan Prioritized

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The search for new water in the Pine area will continue.

The Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District approved and prioritized a list of projects to move forward with its mission of finding new sources of water in the often-parched mountain communities north of Payson.

The first priority the PSWID will pursue is an investigation of Pine Valley with a geophysical survey. The survey, developed for mining, uses electromagnetic and sound wave imaging to determine the most likely sites for drilling for water. Once a survey is completed, the plan is to create a three-dimensional model of the Pine Creek Valley substructure.

The group's second priority is to look into developing a horizontal well and earthen dam in Pine Creek or Johnson Canyon.

The third project proposed for fiscal 2007-2008 is to research alternative and cost-effective methods of distributing water from potential well sites at the lower elevations of Pine throughout the entire distribution system.

The board of the PSWID still has high hopes for the production potential of the K2 well site in Strawberry.

"Although the K2 is projected to provide adequate water for both communities, this board needs to consider the future," said Chairman Gary Sherlock at the July 19 meeting, where the new projects were prioritized.

"Projections (for K2) have not taken into consideration the effects of the ongoing drought, so we will continue to explore for new water."

Because of the drought, Salt River Project reported that 2006 runoff was the second driest on record, he said.

Pine and Strawberry wells have not been able to recharge at previous rates, resulting in 1.7 million gallons of water being hauled to Pine at a cost of $89,125 in May and June, Sherlock said.

"This cost will be passed on to the Pine customers and does not include 95,000 gallons lost, due to a water leak," he said.

Additionally 473,000 gallons were hauled to Strawberry in May and June.

"Considering the existing water shortage and future projections, I find it hard to understand the resistance to the K2 project that has projections of delivering adequate water to Pine and Strawberry now and for some time in the future," Sherlock said.

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