Payson extended its water supply agreement with the Tonto Apache Tribe and added a water line to boot.
It’s a move that’s critical for the tribe to provide necessary infrastructure to its recently expanded lands. It acquired land from the Forest Service that doubled the size of the reservation. This additional water service is a first step toward developing that land.
The Payson council learned during its Sept. 26 meeting, the town has provided water service to the Tonto Apache Tribe since 2005.
“We’ve got 3,000 acre-feet per year of water coming down the mountain (from C.C. Cragin),” said Tanner Henry, Payson’s water division manager.
“This agreement uses some of that water that we have with the tribe as a customer like they have been since ’05.”
Until Henry found a creative solution, the tribe was limited to 100 gallons per minute because of equipment.
“We serve them currently today, out of a booster station that is over by the event center,” said Henry. “That booster station is only capable of 100 gallons per minute.”
The deal started when tribal officials came to Henry asking to “hook onto a new spot.”
Henry said, “Great! Let’s figure that out.”
Henry discovered the booster station constructed for the Elk Ridge subdivision off of Phoenix Street was close enough to pipelines the tribe built on that corner of its land. With only 60 feet unconnected, Henry knew this was a completely doable project.
“In my previous career before I came to the town, I was a consulting engineer,” he said. “It was pretty common for me to have to do an engineering estimate on what things would cost to make things happen, so when we looked at it and sharpened our pencil a little bit — yeah — we can do it for $165,000.”
Add to those bits of news, the C.C. Cragin project has gone online so “we have plenty of water that we can provide the tribe,” said Henry.
In a huddle in Mayor Tom Morrissey’s office, Henry, tribal representatives and Sheila DeSchaaf, acting town manager, came up with the idea that if the tribe paid for the pipeline and a generator, the town would provide the labor to hook up that corner of the reservation to more water.
“So they buy the parts and pieces, we provide the labor,” said Henry. “Seems like a win-win for both of us.”