After 30 years of dreaming, scheming and hoping, the water hits the road on Thursday when the Payson Town Council will likely approve a $283,000, one-year contract to do the preliminary engineering on the long-awaited Blue Ridge pipeline.
Local heavyweight engineering firm Tetra Tech landed the eagerly sought-after contract to do the basic engineering work on the water treatment plant and extra connections that will feed some 3,000 acre-feet of water from the Blue Ridge Reservoir into the town’s water distribution system.
The preliminary engineering work provides enough detail for the town to put the actual construction work out to bid, plus provide the milestones needed to satisfy the terms of a $10.5-million federal stimulus grant the town received to underwrite the cost of the roughly $30-million contract.
The council has already approved a contract with Sunrise Engineering for the preliminary engineering on some 12 miles of pipe running from the end of the existing pipeline at Washington Park down along Houston Mesa Road all the way to the proposed treatment plant near the Shoofly Ruins just across from Mesa del Caballo.
Payson’s rapid move to award engineering contracts underscores the need for communities along the pipeline to move quickly now to negotiate access to an additional 500 acre-feet of water that the pipeline will carry that has been reserved for other Northern Gila County communities.
None have so far secured a water right, although the engineering work Payson has already commissioned may affect who can tap into the pipe at what cost.
The latest engineering work will focus on the treatment plant and about 2.5 miles of pipe needed to feed the Blue Ridge water into the town’s existing water distribution system.
The water flowing into the pipeline should already be near drinking-water quality, since it will come straight out of the Blue Ridge Reservoir atop the Rim, then flow through 14 miles of existing pipe on top of the Rim and another 12 miles of new pipe between Washington Park and Houston Mesa.
The town expects to use a micro-filtration system to remove any sediment the water has picked up along the way plus any bacteria or other organisms that might have grown along the way.
The engineering contract will cover the engineering work downstream from a proposed power generation plant that will actually generate revenue from the gravity flow of the water to Payson.
The Tetra Tech engineering work will cover first the 18-inch pipeline from the treatment plant on Houston Mesa to the intersection of Houston Mesa Road and Highway 87.
In addition, the $283,000 contract will cover a combination of 12-, 16- and 18-inch pipelines along Airport Road, Highway 87, Highway 260 and Longhorn, to interject the Blue Ridge water into the townwide system.