Payson has struck a deal with two area golf courses that will not only help pay for construction of an ancillary C.C. Cragin water line, but that could also help recharge the area’s groundwater supply.
The move to sell town water to water golf courses also marks the shift of an era in which Payson was known as the town with the toughest water conservation rules in the state.
When C.C. Cragin Reservoir water finally makes its way to Payson from above the Mogollon Rim in 2014 or 2015, the town will receive 3,000 acre-feet annually, far beyond its current water needs of about 1,800 acre-feet annually.
So the the town has agreed to sell 200 acre-feet of untreated water to a facilities management company that will in turn use it to water the grass at the Chaparral Pines and The Rim Club golf courses. The pipeline will also eventually serve the Rim Country Educational Alliance, providing water for the landscaping and athletic fields for a proposed university campus.
Like the drinking water for the town, the water will make its way off the Rim to Washington Park, but bypass a treatment facility near Mesa del Caballo and head southeast toward Tyler Parkway.
The facilities management group has agreed to pay Payson $100,000 upon the completion and dedication of the pipeline to the town and the town has agreed to supply water to the golf courses for 50 years with the option of extending the contract another 45 years.
Once the pipeline is built, the golf courses will pay the town $2.06 per thousand gallons, fixed for 10 years.
In addition to paying the town $100,000, the facilities management firm will pay the Rim Country Education Alliance $700,000 to design and construct the pipeline.
Besides keeping the golf courses green, Mayor Kenny Evans explained that when a college campus is built, untreated water from the pipeline could water sporting fields at the campus.
In addition, watering the golf courses consistently could help recharge the water table.
The golf courses have been relying on wastewater from the Northern Gila County Sanitary District, but the amount of water available has fallen consistently behind their needs.
Evans noted that if the golf courses can use enough water to soak into the ground rather than just enough to keep the grass alive, it will not only bolster the golf courses but put water back into the underground water table. The water table dropped more than 100 feet before the town imposed conservation measures several years ago. Once the Blue Ridge water starts going back into the ground, experts expect the water table to rise. The water that soaks into the ground on the fairways of the country club will likely end up in Star Valley’s water table.