There is a Web site, www.ourwaterisourfuture.com, that promotes the building of the Blue Ridge Reservoir pipeline to provide water for Payson. In that Web site it says the following:
"Leasing water is a less desirable alternative to building the C.C. Cragin pipeline because it's incredibly expensive and doesn't allow us to be in control of our own water supply. The cost of leasing water will affect residents and businesses alike in the form of higher utility bills. If we don't own the rights to the water, then we are always at the whim of the lessor."
The central part of the Rim Country Water plan for Pine-Strawberry is to lease water from the Milk Ranch and Strawberry Hollow wells. Why is it a bad thing for Payson to rely on water from private wells, but a good thing for Pine-Strawberry to do that?
The PSWID board needs to consider that question when determining whether to go forward with the K2 project or not. I would like to recommend that the board complete the K2 project and then consider purchasing the water companies. By completing the K2 project prior to the purchase, this would provide the district with:
- A significant source of inexpensive water controlled by the district.
- Water that would easily be available to service the needs of both Pine and Strawberry, whereas the proposal for connecting the Milk Ranch well would only provide additional water for the southern and western portions of Pine.
- The total cost of the K2 well will always be much less than the cost of drilling and connecting a new deep well in Pine.
- The cost to the district of breaching the contract on the K2 well will be as much or more than the cost to the district of completing the K2 well. At least this way, there would be something to show for the money.
- Last, but not least, it would provide the quickest solution to the communities water shortages. This summer instead of three years from now when the condemnation is completed.
Before we commit our water future to the Milk Ranch and Strawberry Hollow wells, the PSWID board needs to do its due diligence and determine the water quality, capacity and operability of those wells.
It is my understanding that the Milk Ranch well has had problems with sand that has resulted in multiple pumps being burned up, that the water quality has not been tested, and that there has not been a sustained yield test done. It is my understanding that the Strawberry Hollow well also has had similar problems with sand and that it has been offline all winter.
The PSWID board needs to determine the status and quality of those wells prior to making any decisions about our water future and to share that information with the public.