Salt River Project (SRP) and the Town of Payson have formalized an agreement that will allow Payson to gain access to a portion of the water supply from the C.C. Cragin Reservoir, formerly the Blue Ridge Reservoir, and gives certainty to Payson’s current and future water supplies.
A provision of the federal Arizona Water Settlements Act of 2004 created an opportunity for Payson to utilize surface water from the C.C. Cragin Reservoir. The agreement between SRP and Payson was approved May 6 in a special Payson Town Council meeting following unanimous approval May 5 by the governing boards of SRP. Execution of the agreement is to take place later this week.
John Sullivan, associate general manager of SRP’s Water Group, said SRP and Payson have been engaged in discussions for more than two years regarding the terms and conditions under which Payson could gain access to a portion of the Cragin water supply. Those discussions, he said, led to this agreement that would resolve SRP’s concerns over the impact of Payson’s groundwater pumping on National Forest lands originally set aside to protect the water resources of SRP shareholders.
Among the key elements of the agreement:
SRP will sever and transfer a portion of the water-use right to Payson, which will permit the delivery of water to Payson for use within the town’s water-service area. SRP will retain the remaining water rights for the benefit of its shareholders.
The average annual water-diversion right from the reservoir is limited to 11,000 acre-feet, and up to 3,000 acre-feet will be made available to Payson each year based on reservoir storage conditions.
The agreement creates a partnership between SRP and Payson whereby SRP and Payson share in the capital, operation and maintenance expenditures related to the reservoir, pumping and water-transmission facilities. SRP and Payson will jointly develop the annual operation plan for the C. C. Cragin facility.
Groundwater pumping by Payson will be limited to a “safe-yield” amount from the town’s pumping facilities, and Payson will not be permitted to develop wells within the National Forest. The agreement allows for pumping in excess of the safe-yield amount under certain circumstances, including extended drought.
In February 2005, Salt River Project and Phelps Dodge Corp. signed a historic water agreement as part of the Gila River Indian Water Rights Settlement that settled water-rights issues and allowed for the transfer of Blue Ridge Reservoir from Phelps Dodge to SRP. The agreement was part of a long history of water agreements between Phelps Dodge and SRP that helped manage Arizona’s water supplies.
As SRP’s newest lake, Blue Ridge Reservoir officially became part of the Salt River Federal Reclamation Project on Sept. 30, 2005, when title to the facility was transferred from SRP to the United States. The dam and reservoir were then renamed C.C. Cragin Dam and Reservoir in recognition of Charles Calhoun Cragin, its second general superintendent and a visionary leader of the Salt River Valley Water Users’ Association from 1920 to 1933.
The C.C. Cragin project consists of a number of facilities, including a dam and reservoir, diversion tunnel and pump shaft, pumping plant, priming reservoir, pipeline, electrical transmission line and a generating plant. The project is in Coconino County, about 25 miles north of Payson atop the Mogollon Rim in the Coconino National Forest.
SRP is the largest provider of water and power to the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, delivering about 1 million acre-feet of water to a 248,000-acre area.
Contact: Jeffrey P. Lane (602) 236-2500 _Jeff.Lane@srpnet.com May 15 Salt River Project