Construction work to bring C.C. Cragin water to Payson in three years is well under way.
Crews are currently installing a line on Airport Road to bring water to homes west of the airport from the main waterline near Highway 87. That work will not wrap up until January and residents can expect intermittent delays on Airport Road until then.
Crews will also be installing new piping around town to get those areas prepped to receive Cragin water, explained Public Works Director LaRon Garrett.
When complete, the town’s underground water system will look like a spider web, each area connected and feeding off a central supply of water from Cragin.
Currently, the system is broken into pockets, with different neighborhoods feeding off various wells.
The town has more than 40 wells scattered throughout town to supply the 1,600-acre feet of water used annually.
The water is pumped, chlorinated and sent directly into homes.
There is no central distribution or treatment facility, Garrett said.
“We don’t treat it because it is all groundwater, so we don’t have to treat groundwater,” he said.
Any extra water is then stored in one of 11 tanks.
With Cragin, the system will change dramatically.
The water will travel south from the reservoir, down the Rim and to a treatment facility near Mesa del Caballo.
Because the water from the reservoir is notably softer, the plant will add minerals back into it before sending it to Payson to keep the water from dissolving and releasing decades of mineral deposits in pipes in the system.
The water will arrive in a central pipe near Tyler Parkway and Highway 87 and then branch off, being distributed throughout town.
The town will effectively shut off the existing wells nine months of the year that Cragin is operational. The direct injection of Blue Ridge water should actually raise groundwater close to the levels they reached before the town’s growth caused long-term declines in the water table.
When Cragin goes offline during the winter months, the town will switch back on the wells.
To get ready for the switch to Cragin, the town is adding extension lines around town to connect existing neighborhood water systems to the main Beeline artery.
On Airport Road, crews are adding half a mile of pipe at a cost of roughly $250,000.
Other in-town lines crews will add include:
• Down the Beeline Highway from Tyler Parkway to East Zurich Drive; $2.6 million
• From East Zurich Drive and Beeline to East Park Drive and North Mud Springs Road; $706,0000
• Across Highway 260 at Mud Springs Road; $160,000
• Rumsey Park; $195,000
• Mud Springs Road to Tyler Parkway tank; $960,000
• Houston Mesa Road to Tyler Parkway; $475,000
Add in a treatment facility, a line down the Rim and other costs and the town plans to spend $46 million to bring Cragin water to town, say officials.
For all that, the town is guaranteed 2,500-acre feet of water annually from the reservoir, far above the 1,600-acre feet used now.
“We will have one of the most secure water supplies in the state of Arizona,” Garrett said.
The town put overflow back into the wells around town.
“When we get all this extra water coming in, we will put it back in the wells,” he said.
“We will raise them back up because they have gone down over the years.”
Water from Cragin is expected to start flowing in as early as three years, ending decades of work to get it here.
Work on the treatment facility near Mesa del is expected to begin in 2014.
The town is currently accepting request for proposals from engineering companies for the design of the facility.
The facility will sit on seven acres east of Mesa del and process 4 million gallons of water daily.
Garrett said it would be some time before Payson ever comes close to using all the water it will get from Cragin.
The high quality water is notably softer, which does pose a problem, he said.
“When everybody’s pipes are used to hard water, soft water eats the lining out that has been created and eventually your pipes leak,” he said.
Minerals will be added back into the water at the treatment plan