Mesa Del Caballo Water Restrictions Irk Residents

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Dirty dishes fill the sink, soiled clothes are piling up and Melissa Powers and her family haven’t taken a proper shower in their Mesa del Caballo home in a week.

With all this, Powers worries any minute her water will be cut off completely.

Earlier this week, Brooke Utilities notified Powers that she was using too much water and would have to make due with 100 gallons a day.

“Not enough” Powers says to take care of her two kids, four dogs and husband. Estimates vary, but each person in the United States uses about 80 to 100 gallons of water per day, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

In Payson the average, per-person use last year was 79 gallons per day, less than half the per-person average in Phoenix.

“I have lived out here my whole life and every year it gets worse,” she said.

Every summer, Mesa del residents deal with strict water restrictions as wells are unable to keep up with demand.

If residents do not comply with restrictions, they risk having their water turned off and a hefty deposit to get it back on.

That is the case for disabled veteran James Knight.

On Wednesday, Knight’s water was cut off, leaving his family, which includes four adults and three children, at a loss of what to do.

Knight said he does not have the $200 needed to get the water back on and his wife is currently working with community members to collect donations.

Brooke Utilities notified Knight that his water would be shut off by leaving a note on his front stoop. By 9 a.m. Wednesday, the water was off.

“It seems like they could have let us know sooner and talked to us and given us a chance to work with them,” he said.

“One day we find a piece of paper at 5 p.m. and the next day it is turned off. They are obviously not trying to work with us.”

A call to Brooke Utilities for comment was not returned as of press time.

For Powers, who admitted she uses a lot of water, cost isn’t the issue. How Brooke Utilities deals with homeowners is.

When she was notified to use less water, she made every effort to comply. She limited washings, started showering at friends’ houses, restricted how often the family flushed the toilet and even started buying some of her water from Payson Concrete.

With all that, Powers learned she had gone over a 100-gallon daily limit by 30 gallons.

When that happened, a Brooke employee Wednesday informed her she could now only use 50 gallons a day.

“I don’t understand how they can make you live like that,” she said.

And calling Brooke Utilities is futile, she added.

“No one with Brooke has called me back.”

When she finally did get a person on the line, they told her she would just have to comply with restrictions.

While Powers has dealt with water restrictions since she moved to Mesa del, she said this year is different.

“Last year I didn’t have someone harassing me saying they were going to pull my meter and shut us off,” she said. “They used to leave notices and work with you, now they are being relentless.”

Knight said he has never dealt with anything like this since he moved in six years ago.

“This is just not right. It is bad business all the way around,” he said.

After the summer of 2009, Brooke said it was looking at ways to reduce restrictions after residents complained to the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC).

Brooke indicated in a report to the ACC that it likely planned to drill another well and seek a change in its rate structure to charge a higher rate for people who use an “excessive” amount of water.

Fortunately, thanks to Payson’s pipeline from the C.C. Cragin Reservoir, additional water could be pumped into the community. Plans suggest the pipeline will run past Mesa del’s front doorstep, with a water treatment plant located on the south end of the unincorporated community.

Brooke has yet to reach an agreement with the Salt River Project on its share of the Blue Ridge water.

The pipeline will carry 3,500 acre-feet per year, with 500 acre-feet reserved for about a dozen communities along the way — including Mesa del Caballo.

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