Some Mesa Del Residents Against Water Plant


Residents of Mesa del Caballo hope to rally at this week’s council meeting to deter Payson from building a water treatment plant next to their subdivision.

One of the six proposed sites for a water treatment plant at the end of the Blue Ridge Pipeline sits right next to the unincorporated subdivision.

The treatment plant will filter sediments from the water and add chlorine and other chemicals to buffer the water and make it compatible with the town’s existing well water. The five-acre site will include several large water tanks and perhaps electrical generators, to produce electricity from the gravity driven flow of the water.

The Blue Ridge pipeline will also likely solve the subdivision’s chronic water shortages, which have repeatedly triggered expensive water hauling operations by Brooke Utilities, which provides water to the subdivision. For the past two years, well levels have dropped and pumps have fallen behind demand — forcing the water company to haul water in from Star Valley and Rye.

Once Blue Ridge water arrives in 2013 or 2014, the subdivision could connect directly to Payson’s system, getting treated drinking water more cheaply than any other community along the pipeline.

The $30-million pipeline will more than double Payson’s water supply, delivering 3,000 acre-feet annually.

The pipeline will also carry 500 acre-feet reserved for other northern Gila County communities, with Mesa del likely to reap the biggest immediate benefit, providing Brooke Utilities negotiates for a share of the pipeline water from the Salt River Project. Residents would have to pay a proportionate share of the pipeline cost, but added hookup costs would be minimal — especially if the treatment plant sits next to the subdivision.

However, several residents of Mesa del Caballo have already shown up at council meetings to urge the council not to put the treatment plant right next to existing homes.

Members of the Mesa del Caballo Community Center/El Caballo Club have already gone on record in favor of a site closer to the Shoofly Ruins. Kandis Mueller and other residents have organized a petition drive in the 400-home subdivision. Anyone interested in participating can call Mueller at 478-6887.

Until the recent release of an environmental assessment, residents had assumed the treatment plant would go on the other side of Houston Mesa Road, not far from the Shoofly Ruins. However, the consultants who prepared the environmental assessment seemed to lean toward the larger site closer to the subdivision, which already has several water tanks on it.

The council on Thursday will also consider a request to come up with another $34,000 to complete the environmental assessment of the Blue Ridge pipeline’s 15-mile run along Houston Mesa Road, with most of the added study focused on the five alternative sites for the treatment plant.

SWCA Environmental Consultants has already spent a year completing the bulk of the study of the pipeline route and uncovered no problems likely to delay the project.

However, the consultants now want an extra $34,000 to conduct additional surveys of any archeological sites or endangered species that could be affected by the construction “staging areas” and the five-acre site right next to Mesa del Caballo where the town will probably build a water filtration and treatment plant.

The Payson Town Council will consider the proposed addition to the SWCA contract at its regular council meeting starting at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday in the council chambers at Town Hall.


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