Saturday, April 12, 2014

Gisela gets greedy growing gardens

Photo by Jim Keyworth
Just a few short miles outside of Gisela, scenes like this are a stark reminder that we live in the desert.

By Jim Keyworth
Gazette Blog Editor

Apparently if you live in Gisela, you’re entitled to use as much water as you want – any way you like.

Among the 300-plus in attendance at the public comment session held Friday evening by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) on Payson Water Company’s application for an average 60 percent rate increase – its first rate increase in 14 years – was a large, vocal contingent from Gisela, a small community off AZ 87 south of Rye.

Several of them argued, without any hydrological evidence to back them up, that they have plenty of water and they deserve to use it at will to preserve a traditional lifestyle of greenery, gardens and generally lush surroundings.  One woman even declared – with a perfectly straight face – that she and her husband use 12-14,000 gallons a month to “raise a little garden.”

In fact, Gisela/Tonto Creek Shores residents use considerably more water per month than any of the other eight communities serviced by Payson Water Company – 6,874 gallons per household compared to a system average of 2,903.

What seemed to be missing Friday evening at the Church of the Nazarene on Tyler Parkway was any sense of the big picture.  The reality is that we live in the desert Southwest which is mired in a 15-year drought.

Under these circumstances, nobody has the right to use 12-14,000 gallons a month “raising a little garden.”  This Mesa del Caballo resident maintains a “little garden” on less than half that amount of water.

It may be true that the Payson Water Company systems have not been adequately maintained.  It may be true that an average rate increase of 60 percent is going to stretch some budgets tighter.  It may be true, as one Gisela resident noted, that Phoenix and the Valley of the Sun are prime water wasters.

But it’s time to get real about water.  We pay much, much, much more for electricity, for propane, for gasoline – but water is the one commodity we really can’t live without.

The days of $25 water bills are history.  And the residents of Gisela and any other community whose household consumption exceeds 10,000 gallons are beyond shortsighted.  They’re wasteful and greedy.

The ACC needs to grant Payson Water Company the agreed-upon reduced rate increase of $290,000, and they need to do it now – before summer demand peaks.


Anonymous said...

How come comments are not being posted?

Jim Keyworth said...

Because yours was the first I received that was sent as a comment. I did receive a signed e-mail/letter that I will be posting shortly. And I do appreciate people who have the cajones to sign their comments. Maybe next time you'll sign yours. Thanks for writing.


Kathie Reidhead - Intervener from Deer Creek Village said...

That's quite a temper tantrum, Mr. Keyworth. You bet there was a large and vocal contingent from Gisela on Friday! For starters, the minimum increase for Gisela residents will be 129%, not 60% as you published, and for many in Gisela, the summer increase in water bills will be 300% or more. That's because the Company is seeking a consolidation of rates amongst all 8 systems and Gisela is being asked to pay a proportionately larger increase than the other communities. That is discriminatory. Secondly, in evidence on the Docket of the case is a hydrological report called The Water Atlas, published by the AZ Dept. of Water Resources that shows the Tonto Creek Water Basin has ABUNDANT water in underground storage, a fraction of a percentage of what is consumed by the population there. The ratepayers who spoke on Friday evening spoke accurately on those details. That community raises livestock and grows fruit and vegetables that are sold at the Farmers Market and elsewhere. It's likely those families settled where water is abundant in order to live that lifestyle. I don't know who you think you are to lecture anybody about being wasteful and greedy! The people of Gisela are responsibly supporting the local economy and their families with the resources available to them. The fact is the average person uses 80-100 gallons of water per day. So any household of 4 people will easily exceed 10,000 gallons per month....not counting those that raise gardens or livestock! The "average" Payson Water Company usage of 2,903 gallons/month that you cited is heavily skewed due to the large number of households in these communities that have part-time/weekend residents. For full-timers, 12,000 gallons/month for a family of 4 is exactly what the National average is. Drop the drama, Mr. Keyworth, and get the facts straight. The Payson Water Company has been shown to have engaged in numerous material misrepresentations of fact over the course of this rate case, to the point that criminal investigations are now being sought. It's pathetic to see you carrying their water too. (Pun intended.) The Corporation Commission has a responsibility to protect consumers from abuses by monopolistic businesses and the people eloquently asked them to do so. You can visit the docket of the case at, click on Edocket, enter Docket #W-03514A-13-0111 to learn more. And I'd highly suggest you do so, Mr. Keyworth. What a disservice you do the Community with such blatantly biased commentary.

Justin Lucas said...

It's obvious to any reader of this blog that Jim Keyword is just another angry liberal spewing his venom at people who are, at least, concerned about matters that will greatly affect their pocket books and lifestyle. It's pretty unfortunate too because many of these people are poor and/or retired on a fixed income, hardly the kind of people rational individuals would insultingly call greedy. Jim, you claim that your blog is "for the people" of Rim Country as though you are a member of the media that's function is to ask the tough questions of our government and corporations to keep them honest to "the people" that they serve. Instead, you use your platform to belittle people who don't walk in lock step with a predatory government mandated monopolistic public utility. Nothing that you wrote on this waste of bandwidth is factual; at least Mrs Reidhead had the "cojones" to direct your readers to a mountain of facts pertaining to the water rate case. Come on, Jim, step your game up.

Ted said...

As Kathie demonstrated, according to the EPA's own website, average U.S. water consumption is near 100 gal. per day per person. Based on that statistic, a family of 4 would use 12000 gal. per month and under the proposed rate increase their bill would be approximately $108.00 to $120.00 per month, that is not 129% increase but a 300% increase. Other utilities rates may have gone up in the last 14 years as you stated, but I don't think any have gone up that much.
Secondly, you may not realize this, but water runs down hill. I don't think that our tiny communities of approximately 300 households in Gisela and Deer Creek are going to put a dent in the water supply in comparison of to the 4 million people living in the valley of the sun desert who grow lush green lawns, the largest percentage of pools per capita in the U.S. and all the beautiful fountains we see when we go to the valley. Lets get off of the hypocritical soap box unless you are ready to call for an equal moratorium on water usage in the Valley of the Sun.
Third, why should we be expected to pay such huge water rate increases to a company that has not met its responsibility to maintain our systems properly, and has been out of compliance with ACC for decades while pocketing a profit of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year as shown by their "dividend" payout of $350,000.00 to"a major shareholder" just before requesting this rate increase.
Once again, as I demonstrated in one of the documents I submitted to the Board but was not able to speak to because of the time constraints, even the Town of Payson's water rate structure is not as high as is what is being considered for Payson Water Company customers. In fact, it was going to be my suggestion that I don't feel there are many people in the PWC system who would object to a similar if not identical rate structure as what the town of Payson charges. The family of 4 discussed above would only pay $72.86 compared to the $108.00 PWC wants to charge us. Certainly that would sound more reasonable even to you. And the Gisela water user you discussed at 21,000 gallons would only pay on the top rate of Town of Payson $6.84 per 1000 as compared to the over $9.00 per 1000 your friends at PWC are requesting for a total of $123.60 rather than the nearly $300 they would pay under the PWC plan.
People choose a place to live for the lifestyle it offers. I'm sure you, like most chose the Payson area for its higher elevation and cooler climate, we in Gisela choose our location for the warmer weather, cheaper living expenses, and abundant water. Now you like other PC Nazi/police want to make everybody conform to your vision and call us greedy for using the resources on the land that God gave us.
So because you chose to live in an area without (supposedly) abundant water, and PWC wants to bring Cragin Pipeline water to your community, you want our communities to subsidize your lifestyle choices while you criticize ours.
Finally, a lesson in science and geology. When we "Greedy" gardeners pay to use that water for our gardens, other than what the plants actually use for growth, what happens to the rest of the water? My middle school science class taught me a thing called the water cycle, The remaining water either evaporates and adds to the atmosphere, and the majority percolates through the soil and returns to the aquifer from which it came so that we can pay to use it all over again.

One last thought for you to consider, and the talk is already going around. If these rates are placed on our communities where the water is so readily available, as we pointed out, we have high quality wells between 60-250 feet deep, it will be cheaper for people to drill their own wells than purchase PWC water. What will happen to PWC water rates for the upper communities when they lose 200 or so ratepayers from their system. You will pay even more.

Ted Tatum 44 year Gisela resident.

Kathie Reidhead - Intervener from Deer Creek Village said...

...."a fraction of a percentage of *that* is consumed by the population there."

Jim Keyworth said...

The water that evaporates does not become part of the water cycle. It evaporates. And the percentage that gets down to the groundwater is nil. Don't pretend that any of the water you dump on your garden is reusable. It' not. And that's a fact.

Nobody questions the Valley's waste of water, but that doesn't make it right for us to waste it too.

"The resources on the land God gave us." Come on, now. Because there is water in the ground below you, God has given you the right to use it all up? That's not the way my God thinks.

And I think $120 is a fair price to pay for using 12,000 gallons of water a month. In fact, one day soon you're going to wish that's all you paid for 12,000 gallons.

Don't you follow the news? Don't you read about the drought in the Southwest? Don't you read about the lack of precipitation this past winter? We all belong to the community of humans, and we all have a responsibility to our children and grandchildren to leave them some water.

And last but not least, having your children sing a song to the ACC and using your father's dog tags for sympathy have nothing to do with the facts of this situation. My dad is 96, a WW2 vet who lost an arm in the war. I would never besmirch or belittle his achievements by throwing his dog tags around the way one Gisela resident did.

The bottom line is really simple, like it or not. Water is going to get a lot more expensive, and it behooves us all to preserve this precious commodity to whatever extent we can. Is that asking too much?

Ted said...

Well, for one who alleged that we made unsupported comments Mr. Keyworth, you sure choose to select your facts. I notice you left off a great part of the facts I used and my initial comments in posting my response. As to evaporation not being part of the water cycle, I refer you to the U.S. Geological Survey Website with an excellent graphic that clearly demonstrates evaporated water returns to the earth in the form of precipitation, and to the PDF at the Arizona Department of Water Resources that discusses the unique features of the Gisela, Dear Creek area that demonstrates that because of the sandy, riverbasin type of soil we have and the shallow water table, a large part of our groundwater does indeed return to the water table. As to using children to make a point, most people found it was a nice touch of cute levity to a frustrating situation, their mother wants her children to learn the importance of being civicly involved as productive citizens, and I for one as a civics teacher applaud her efforts to teach her children the importance of civic participation. I only wish more young people today took an interest in how rapidly their rights are being eroded (whatever their viewpoints). Also, I see you pointed out again the large percentage of water use in Gisela over our northern friends, without pointing out that Gisela has a greater percentage of full-time, permanent residence than those do. Lets be real and compare apples to apples at least.


Ted said...

Mr. Keyworth, let me quote you facts from the Arizona Water Atlas, the official report on water conditions in Arizona.
"In the Tonto Creek Basin groundwater is found in stream alluvium, basin-fill sand and gravel, Paleozoic sedimentary rocks and Precambrian igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. The primary aquifer occurs in basin fill, which underlies a large portion of the basin, from near Rye to the southern basin boundary.(Arizona Water Atlas vol. 5 pg. 8)
Groundwater flow directions are from the Mogollon Rim to the south in the C-aquifer and from north to south along the Rye Creek and Tonto Creek drainages in the alluvial aquifer. Natural recharge from the basin has been estimated at 17,000 to 27,000 Acre Feet Annually (AFA), Estimates of groundwater in storage range from 2 – 9.4 million acre feet (maf). (Arizona Water Atlas vol. 5 pg. 9)

With one exception, all wells measured in 2003-2004 had a water level below 100 feet. The median well yield reported on registration forms for large (>10 inch) diameter wells was 120 gpm.

Concerning our “wasted water use” AWA pg. 69 gives a chart table of groundwater used for agricultural purposes. That table shows that for all of the Tonto Water Basin, (defined earlier as from the headwaters of Tonto above Kohls Ranch, through Star Valley, from the Mazatzels to the Sierra Anchas and down to Roosevelt Lake” agricultural water usage is less than 1000 acre feet per year and of course annual recharge as stated above is 17000 to 27000 AFA. The subnotes at the bottom of this chart also say that <1000 AFA annually is assumed to be around 5000 AFA for calculation purposes. (Arizona Water Atlas vol. 5 pg. 69)

As you can see from this quote from the AWA Report, Gisela and all the Tonto Basin do have Abundant water, there is no shortage. In fact, the water is replenished at a rate 17 to 27 times our total use and our total Agricultural use for the entire drainage, not just Gisela who you seem bent on singling out for your attacks is only about 500 acre feet per year. Even if that water was not abundantly recharged, it would take 100,000 years to use, but obviously it is recharged fully though checking your facts when you criticize us for wasting water is something you missed out on.

Jim Keyworth said...

I did not intentionally leave any part of your comments out. If I were doing that kind of thing, I would not be allowing any of these comments to post.

Even if you don't like my views, you have to give me credit for posting yours. I do have the option not to but would never do that. I believe you folks have a right to your opinion just as I do.

In fact, the more we talk about water, the more likely we are to be more careful with it - no matter what we live on top of.