Sen. Kyl has done so much for Payson, water-wise and otherwise (think beyond astronomical). Sen. Kyl has given so much and it’s time for Payson to publicly recognize the senator’s efforts. There are only a few of us, I think, that appreciate the tremendous impact that Sen. Kyl has made on this town, this country and this state. For the first time in 60 years the never-ending search for new water is no longer leading the list of Payson’s municipal priorities.
During a Town of Payson Corporate Strategic Planning Retreat in the fall of 2004, the Payson Town Council and staff received the news that the Arizona Water Settlements Act had passed in Congress. There was a subdued reaction from the participants as it was almost impossible for most in the room to realize the unquantifiable opportunity available to Payson in this act. Subsequent congressional approval in 2007 of the Rural Water Supply Act created a pathway for small, western rural communities such as Payson to construct water supply projects, with assistance from the federal government, as not “a hand-out but a hand-up.”
Payson’s CC Cragin water supply project is the first project nationwide to go through the Rural Water Supply Act process. The benefits of this project are tremendous to the present and future of Northern Gila County communities. Every one that benefits from this project pays a fair share to guarantee that this project remains financially and technically feasible for all concerned. Without Sen. Kyl’s leadership we would not be in the enviable position in which we find ourselves. Sen. Kyl never led us to believe that any part of the CC Cragin process would be easy or inexpensive. Rather (he let us know) that Payson would have to earn by sacrifice and hard work the benefits of this project.
In 1995 when Payson filed for surface water rights in the Little Colorado watershed Sen. Kyl provided wise counsel to the Town of Payson on the many pitfalls and hurdles that would have to be overcome if the Town was ever to benefit from a Blue Ridge (CC Cragin) Reservoir water supply. Payson could not have navigated the tremendously complicated, legal, financial and political mine field that we have encountered to date without the senator’s guidance. He truly “led from the front” and delivered an enduring water supply to the Town of Payson.
Buzz Walker, water superintendent,
Town of Payson