In 2004, Wheeler and Associates produced a report for the Town of Paonia entitled Final Feasibility Report for Improving the Water Supply System of the Town of Paonia, which concludes “The Town has enough water to meet its current and future demands during average years, but if these (407) standby taps are put into service in the near future, it could stress the Town’s ability to provide water during dry years. … Paonia could significantly enhance its firm yield by providing additional storage for water that is currently spilled in its collection system and lost in its distribution system.”
Fifteen years have passed since this recommendation, new taps have been added, yet Paonia has not built additional storage as recommended and thus remains extremely vulnerable to water shortages, including usage restrictions and/or complete shutoff. This is not an idle threat, as we all experienced earlier this year. Opponents of the moratorium recommend that despite warnings and actual experience, we continue to issue water taps and have faith that we will properly address the problem in the future. Given the fact that we have not been able to get this done in 15 years, I do not have enough confidence to take that leap of faith. Let’s get our order of business right. The right step now is to implement a moratorium. Additional taps should be offered only if and when we have taken the steps necessary to assure that we have adequate water to meet the obligations we take on.