The Payson Town Council last week agreed unanimously to provide water services in an emergency for neighboring Star Valley.
The agreement would provide Star Valley backup should a well break down or a water pipe burst, now that Star Valley has entered into the water business by buying out Brooke Utilities.
“I don’t think that Star Valley will ever necessarily use it — but they can call Payson as a last resort to provide backup services if they have a break in a water main or a well out of service. It’s like ‘hey, give us a call, we’ll help out,’” said Buzz Walker, Payson’s water director.
The agreement represents the latest shift toward cooperation for the once-feuding neighbors. Payson’s acquisition of the Tower Well in Star Valley several years ago spurred the incorporation of that much smaller community driven largely by fears Payson would pump so much water Star Valley’s shallow wells would run dry.
However, the two towns have dramatically changed their relationship in the past year. Star Valley recently bought from Payson three unused wells in addition to buying out Brooke Utilities, which has a small system that serves about 10 percent of the residents of the town.
As a result, Star Valley can also now get a share of water from Payson’s Blue Ridge pipeline.
“This will help them if there’s a crunch,” said Walker of the agreement.
He said the agreement doesn’t represent a partnership, just a service contract — with Star Valley paying for services it might need.
“It’s a safety net for the town of Star Valley.”
Payson Town Attorney Tim Wright hastened to assure the council the agreement specifies that Payson will serve the needs of its own customers first in the event of a broader emergency.
The council welcomed the agreement.
“It’s the sign of the neighborliness that’s developed between our two towns,” said Councilor Fred Carpenter.
Councilor Su Connell added “It’s another sign of the cooperation between our towns. Perhaps the water war is really over.”