Payson Says It Has Secured A 'Forever Water Supply'

By Mythili Gubbi
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2019 - 8:18pm
Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - 12:11pm

While the rest of the state is dealing with water shortages, one town in Arizona will soon have a water supply that it calls a “forever" source.

20 years and $54 million later, Payson has a reliable water source for its residents. The water comes from the C.C. Cragin Reservoir that was acquired by the Salt River Project. The project will include 26 miles of pipeline from the reservoir, a pump station, two hydroelectric generators, a water treatment plant and multiple storage tanks.

The town previously relied on its groundwater supply, but wanted to find a more reliable source to sustain all of its future water needs. It implemented control growth policies to conserve water and geared its efforts to finding an alternative supply.

“You just pretty much take your affairs into your own hands and take advantage of opportunities and develop that water supply that isn’t subject to limitation by others: it’s only subject, like all water, to nature,” said Buzz Walker, project manager of the new water system. “So that’s I would say, you know, 40-50 years of hard work, and that’s why Payson is where it is, not having to worry about future water supply.”

Walker added that even though growth slowed down and the project cost a lot, it was for a sustainable future.

“If it’s a forever water supply, we’re finally past the point where we’ve been in forever where we keep spending money looking for water," said Walker. "It’s not a sure thing ... it’s a gamble. So, it’s not that you spent less money looking for water, you flip the equation and say we’re spend money developing the water.”

The town will raise water rate by five to 15 percent annually for a seven year period to pay back the $40 million loaned from the state Water Infrastructure Finance Authority and to pay for updates and improvements in the system. Water from the pipeline is expected to be in homes by July 1.