I’m writing to finish my response to criticisms of the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District in your letters section on March 20. As I pointed out on Friday, most of Mr. Schwalm’s points were incorrect or misleading. So here I offer a point-by-point response.
1) Mr. Schwalm claimed that shortly after closing the deal for the Milk Ranch Well, the PSWID board announced that they had “discovered” that PSWID owned the property adjacent to the Milk Ranch Well. PSWID then drilled a replica of the Milk Ranch Well for only $163,000.
In fact, during the survey for Milk Ranch No. 1, the district learned it owned two possible well sites north of Milk Ranch No. 1. The new well drilled on the south side of Pine Creek west of the Prudential Building (Milk Ranch No. 2) is not a “replica” of Milk Ranch No. 1. Milk Ranch No. 2 is 800 feet deep. Milk Ranch No. 1 is 1,050 feet deep. Milk Ranch No. 2 has a 6” casing. Milk Ranch No. 1 has an 8” casing. The 6” casing pipe for Milk Ranch No. 2 was already owned by the PSWID. Additionally, PSWID Board Member Mike Greer installed most of the electrical equipment at no cost to the district. Milk Ranch No. 2 is on PSWID property but within the Pine Creek Floodway as delineated by FEMA. We cannot install storage or booster facilities at the Milk Ranch No. 2 site because of FEMA and Gila County Floodplain Management regulations. We can, however, develop another 85 gpm well and pump the water to the Milk Ranch No. 1 storage tank and on into the distribution system. We may even be able to develop a third well on PSWID property using the Milk Ranch No. 1 facilities. A third 85 gpm well would yield a total of 250 gpm from the Martin formation from all three wells, which makes Milk Ranch No. 1 site critical to the overall plan. These additional wells could not have been considered without the Milk Ranch No. 1 facilities.
2) Schwalm claimed PSWID held an option that would have transferred the Solitude Trails Water district, along with a high-production well, to PSWID at no cost. He claimed PSWID handed that option back to the developer of Solitude Trails, for no compensation, at the same time the developer was lobbying PSWID to buy the water district for $500,000. He claimed PSWID unilaterally changed the water sharing agreement so that Solitude Trails receives free water, paid for by the PSWID customers and taxpayers, an arrangement he said violates the PSWID Rules and Regulations that require pro-rata sharing of costs.
In fact, there are no wells on the Solitude Trails development. Two offsite wells provide water for Solitude Trails, one is one mile north of Solitude Trails on the east side of Pine Creek, the second at the north end of Portal Pine Creek Canyon Unit 3. They produce less than 40 gpm, certainly not high production wells. A “Wheeling” agreement allows water to be delivered through PSWID water lines to the Solitude Trails storage tank. Under a Water Sharing Agreement, the PSWID purchases the excess water from these wells. Solitude Trails is not receiving “free water.” The water is produced from their wells and transferred to Solitude Trails through PSWID water lines. I don’t believe this agreement violates any of the district’s rules.