Gary Sherlock, chairman of the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District, says claims of questionable acts by his board are misleading.
He also has concerns about the alleged shortcomings of the K2 well site being cited by different parties.
The Rim Country Water group is the primary organization taking issue with the actions of the PSWID board and the K2 well site.
The K2 site in Strawberry is owned by the Pine Water Company. The district and the utility propose to drill a deep well. If the exploration is successful, a well will be constructed at the site to provide water to Pine residents. The PSWID has agreed to provide $300,000 toward the project.
Sherlock defended the hydrology studies of the site. Critics consider the project too risky and too expensive. There have also been accusations that potential well sites in Pine have not been fully investigated.
The peer review was an evaluation of the hydrogeologic study performed by Highland Water Resources, owned by Mike Ploughe, said Sherlock.
The scope of the study, requested and paid for by PSWID, included locations in east Strawberry, all in the general area of the K2 site. In this study Mike Ploughe gave the K2 site a positive evaluation, Sherlock said.
As part of the study, Ploughe commented that a site in Pine might be considered, however his comment was generic with no specific location recommended, making it impossible to evaluate his recommendation, Sherlock said.
The Pine Water Company paid for three hydrologists to review Ploughe's study, using their technical knowledge of the hydrogeology in the area, Sherlock said. "These peer reviews were requested and paid for by the Pine Water Company, and were the sole property of Pine Water Company. No tax money was involved. Although marked confidential, the district delegates in charge of negotiations -- Jim Richey and Wes Suhr -- were given the opportunity to review them and report their findings to the board."
Among the opposition arguments against the K2 site are claims that because it is near other wells, it will deplete Strawberry water sources; the property is not large enough to support a well and 300,000-gallon storage tank; and a deep well in Strawberry could have a negative impact on Fossil Creek.
"These fabrications are an attempt to alarm the public to gain support for their initiative to kill the K2 well, take over the PSWID board, buy out the water companies and form a water district. This initiative would be funded with your taxes," Sherlock said.
"Now that the peer reports have been made public, I have read through them. I have also reviewed the delegates' detailed evaluations of the peer reports and conclude these delegate evaluations were comprehensive and agree with their general assessment of ‘neutral to positive' for the hydrogeology of the K2 site," he said.
This board has the good fortune of having members with professional backgrounds to produce expert opinions on water matters, he said.
On the issue of a questionable vote to recommend the Arizona Corporation Commission allow PWC to encumber property related to the K2 well agreement, Sherlock said Fred Krafczyk's statement in the Oct. 23 Payson Roundup, insinuating that at the PSWID's Oct. 18 regular meeting, "Barbara Hall was incorrectly denied a vote," is ridiculous.
"Trust me; this board does nothing without legal counsel, including the investment of the $300,000 for the K2 well. And to assume how the co-chair may have voted is inappropriate to say the least, just another attempt to alarm the public."
The K2 site well is about getting needed water into the system quickly and economically, ending water shortages and hauling charges for the immediate future, Sherlock said.
"The opposition is using tactics to impede the progress of the K2 Site Joint Well Development Agreement. When and if the K2 deep well becomes productive and solves the water shortage for the near future, this will blunt the costly efforts of Rim Country Water to buy out Brooke Utilities and form their own domestic water company," Sherlock said.