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Monday, November 19, 2012

Big water scandal in Pine

PSWID treasurer charged
personal stuff on card

[Gazette Blog Editor's note: The following, sent by Pine Strawberry Water Improvement (PSWID) board member and watchdog Sam Schwalm, was written by a longtime Pine resident about his impressions of the Nov. 15 PSWID meeting, the first he had ever attended.  It is run in its entirety without editing.  Our only comment is that depending on the Payson Roundup to keep track of what's going on is a fool's mission.  One of the key players, the guy who sold a muddy well to PSWID, is a columnist for the Roundup.  How objective are they going to be in going after the truth?]

My first board meeting of the PSWID-must say a single more ineffectual group I have never seen. Three professionals existed-the Hydrologist, the Manager (apparently he is the only fellow that actually does anything or knows what is actually going on), and the "Spider"-that would be the lawyer who lurked in the corner doing what spiders do the best-lurked. Why legal representation was required and at what cost to the community is frankly beyond me. It seems the board feels it can spend money like the dirty water they are pitching into the Pine Creek water shed in an effort to clean the well and their reasoning is as clear as the water they send through my pipes. 

 A lot of the meeting was spent in argument between Mr. Lovetro and (PSWID board member) Tom (Weeks) over Tom’s discovery as treasurer that Mr. Greer I believe it was, had in fact been using a "District" credit card for personal expenses. Amongst the charges were $400+ to the Bass Pro Shop in Phoenix-perhaps Mr. Greer was searching for a lure that works in muddy water. Who knows- since we can't drink the water we might all be wise to use our allotments to start raising Bass. I'm not sure, but isn't theft of over a $1,000 considered a felony?

Mr. Lovetro’s argument was that Tom failed to observe "protocol" by not running his investigation through him first. Tom’s response was that as treasurer [Ed. Note: Tom is not Treasurer, he was investigating as a board member] he was exercising due diligence in requesting the statement detailing the credit card expenditures, since after all that is his job and he in fact is working for the community and has their interest at heart. After all it is the community that is footing the bill for Mr.Greer’s meals at Native New Yorker and supplying whatever new Bass gadgets needed to improve the quality of our community water supply.

Mr. Greer had launched the meeting by admitting to his theft and openly apologizing to the thirty odd people in attendance- closing with the fact that restitution had been made. One very gentle heart on the board, I believe he is superintendent of schools, considered this an adequate response- Mr. Lovetro went so far as to say:.....it was a stupid thing to do, a mistake...."-more or less, but apparently was content with an apology and restitution. I have a somewhat different opinion- he who condones thievery is more guilty than the thief himself. This is our board-they represent the brothers, sisters and children of this community-they are our leaders and should lead by example. Perhaps they are.

So I stand educated-one of the board members is a self admitted thief and two of the board members, one of which is the chairman Mr. Lovetro, openly condone such behavior-given of course restitution and an apology is made. The only one in this entire schoolyard brawl that showed one iota of moral turpitude or spine was Tom- he is my hero and is properly representing the community he serves.

Mr. Lovetro was quick to point out that the district had purchased some 30k worth of fuel from Tom’s gas station constituting a conflict of interest since Tom is on the board- Tom's response was" ... what’s this, Tit for Tat?" Fact is, where else do you get gas? It is still the cheapest in town and one assumes that would be motivation enough. Low blow Mr. Lovetro-Oh, I forget, this is coming from a board who spent a million bucks to purchase a sandy well and pumps it into the creek at massive volumes for weeks at a time in an effort to "clean" the well, and silly me with a one gallon per flush toilet.

Not satisfied with that they drill two more just like it. I'm happy to report that Milk Ranch 2 is more or less ready and Milk Ranch 3 is coming close-soon our plan for water independence (or our problems) will be tripled. Guess it depends on what is coming out of YOUR pipes. Seems to me you might want to get the first well working before you create a brood of very expensive problems-but that’s just me.

On the plus side the board is "looking into" a turbid water sensor that will automatically divert water into the drainage to prevent contamination of our water supply-I believe these will be attached to all three MR wells. Perhaps when they are all on line I will take up surfing or if I'm very, very kind I can get permission to divert it to my aqua farm where of course I will be raising only the finest bass. Failing that maybe Mr. Greer and I can hire ourselves out as guides and try out some of his new gadgets on lower Pine creek, for I strongly suspect that the surf will be up. Tell me Sam, are all of these meetings this entertaining?

One gentleman brought hideous water samples taken on Oct 3 and again on Oct 18, only to be contradicted by a woman that makes ice for a living. She told the first gentlemen that his sample didn't hold a candle to hers and her problem has been every day and for a long time. A licensed commercial canner brought samples of bad pickles produced on Oct 3 (date coded). He contacted his Government process authority and was told sight unseen that his problem was most likely from dirty water and or massive quantities’ of lime- they agreed to test the product in question. All other contaminated product has been destroyed. This is potential death on a stick- a very blunt stick.

Turbidity was discussed. The hydrologist brought samples of water and ascertained that they were between an NTU range of 1-10 (I believe), and as an experienced professional he could not discern a difference in clarity. The fellow with the hideous water asked what level of turbidity was required to be met say down in the Valley- the response was that would depend upon where. Rephrased to ask what levels are sought in your average municipal water supply, let's say down in the Valley, the answer was 1. Recent turbidity according to the districts handouts is 5-7.That's 5-700% worse than Valley water which I wouldn't drink when I lived there. Apparently there is no legal requirement to produce water that you can actually see through.

On the upside, according to their handout, the impact of turbidity is merely "esthetic". This would imply that there is no danger to health- unless of course you’re making pickles or ice for a living-in either case your ability to make a living is seriously challenged. I'm in the wrong business- think bass farm- they love water you can't see through-no need to hide. Why such a pointed effort to blame our water problems on construction, line breaks, ground water seeping back into the well etc.etc. is being made alludes me. I have lived here 10 years and in that time I have never been out of water nor experienced muddy water out of my pipes until the Milk Ranch 1 was put online.

This situation is serious and must be corrected. Our only recourse is through ADEQ and the press-it must be utilized to its fullest. The community must be willing to collect samples and document their water quality issues-pitch a fit-complain to anybody and everybody that will listen-complain to anybody that won't listen.  Behave like children. Act like our water board. Unite. Organize. Get it out there. Only through pressure placed on the current board using these two methods will the citizens of this community be able to get what they are paying for- quality water.

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