Blue Ridge Pipeline Proposal

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Gila County barely joined Payson's efforts to build a pipeline that will carry the Rim Country's future drinking water during a meeting on Tuesday.

Payson will pay roughly $30 million for the pipeline and a water treatment plant. Gila County will contribute about $4 million to super size the pipe, allowing for extra water, according to the agreement signed Tuesday.

Supervisors Tommie Martin and Jose Sanchez voted for the measure. Supervisor Shirley Dawson said she opposed passing any agreement until Star Valley and the Tonto Apache Tribe were included in the negotiations. Star Valley falls in Dawson's supervisor district.

Payson officials, along with Martin, said those communities are already involved.

The proposed pipeline will extend 14.5 miles along E. Houston Mesa Road to deliver the 3,000 acre-feet of water annually that Payson recently acquired from the Salt River Project's C.C. Cragin (Blue Ridge) Reservoir. Another 500 acre-feet of water are available to other parts of northern Gila County, including Star Valley.

Proponents want to build a pipeline big enough to deliver all the water available to Gila County -- not just to Payson. The agreement says that Gila County will pay its share of super sizing the pipe, and then recoup expenses from water users.

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