Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mesa del will pay for water hauling this summer

Photo by Jim Keyworth
Randy Norman, Irene Schwartzbauer and Ed Schwebel comprise the Mesa del Caballo Water Committee.  The committee has established a postive working relationship with Brooke Utilities that will assure an adequate water supply this summer.

Plan will be explained at community meetings

By Jim Keyworth
Gazette Blog Editor

(Disclaimer: The editor has lived in Mesa del Caballo for 12 years.)

The party -- if you can call it that -- is over for Mesa del Caballo residents.

Payson Water Company, a division of Brooke Utilities, has been hauling water off and on -- but mostly on -- during the past few summers to the  unincorporated 400-home horse community 1.8 miles northeast of Payson off Houston Mesa Road.  Brooke blames an increase in consumption and a decrease in production for the chronic summer shortage.

But Mesa del residents have not had to pay extra for the hauled water like Pine does -- until now.  That's because Brooke filed an "Application of Interim Water Augmentation Surcharge" with the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) March 30 that "would allow Payson Water Company to pass through the direct costs of water augmentation service in the event groundwater supplies are insufficient to serve the ... subdivision while a longer term plan is developed," according to a letter to customers from Brooke. 

In other words, the water that Brooke will purchase from the Town of Payson and truck down Houston Mesa Road will raise water bills in Mesa del this summer.  Residents can find out how much and more at a series of meetings this week.

The meetings, which will include "presentations" by Brooke spokesperson Myndi Brogdon and the Mesa del Caballo Water Committee, plus a question and answer session, will be held twice on Thursday, April 8, at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., and twice on Saturday, April 10, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Brooke has requested that the ACC expedite its application to be sure it gets reimbursed for this summer's charges.  The letter to residents also explains that the extra costs for hauling water are an "interim" measure "until a permanent rate case and long-term water supply solution can be established...." 

Two ironies regarding the water situation in Mesa del:

1. The U.S. Forest Service is refusing to allow an above ground temporary pipeline to be utilized by Brooke for getting Payson water to Mesa del without a costly environmental impact study.  This, even though trucking water down Houston Mesa Road all summer will most certainly result in greater environmental damage than a temporary above ground pipeline that would be in place only during the hottest summer months.

2. Back 10 years or so, when Brooke convinced the ACC to lift a moratorium on new water hookups in Mesa del, it promised the commission that it had resolved all water shortage issues for good.  The company's commitment to water conservation has been a relatively recent phenomenon.

The good news: The Mesa del Water Committee, comprised of Irene Schwartzbauer, Randy Norman and Ed Schwebel, has established a positive working relationship with Brooke and will continue to look out for the best interests of residents.


Gisela said...

In the past Brookes hauled water from Gisela to Mesa Del. The recent flood displaced the spare holding tank. To date the tank has not been replaced. The remaining tank holds water for the residents of Gisela. Unless that spare tank is replaced, Brookes will have to find water from somewhere else to haul to Mesa Del.

Dots said...

Did you get a chance to go to the meeting? I had company over so I missed it. Any updates on what was discussed and bottom line, what it's going to cost us, the residents of Mesa Del? Thanks!