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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : local June 29, 2015

4/13/2012 9:55:00 PM
New well to supplement Prescott drinking water supply
Cindy Barks
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - A new water well that is about a mile from the field where the city deposits its treated wastewater could be augmenting Prescott's drinking-water supply within about a year and a half.

At its Tuesday meeting, the Prescott City Council approved a $220,000 contract with Carollo Engineers to plan for the arsenic-removal treatment that will be necessary before the water from the new well is suitable for use.

Engineering Services Director Mark Nietupski noted that the federal limit for arsenic in drinking water is 10 parts per billion. Water from the airport well exceeds that level, he said, at about 14 parts per billion.

Since the 2006 federal change that lowered the acceptable level of arsenic from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion, much of the water from Prescott's main well field in Chino Valley also requires arsenic-removal treatment.

Nietupski explained that the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) required the new well as a part of the city's 2005 designation of assured water supply.

The designation came with a stipulation that the well be near the city's recharge field - the area northwest of the airport, where the city pumps a portion of its treated wastewater (effluent) and allows it to percolate into the aquifer. In turn, the city receives groundwater credits for the amount of "recharged" water.

Michelle Moreno, public information officer for ADWR, said Wednesday that the department included the provision in the designation to ensure that the city has a way of using its recharged water.

"It shows that the city has some sort of mechanism to recover water within the hydrological area," Moreno said, "to recover not groundwater, but to recover stored water."

Local resident John Zambrano, who has a background in environmental engineering, had several questions Tuesday about the proximity of the water well to the recharge field.

Zambrano said later that while he believes the nearness of the water well to the area where the city recharges its effluent is an issue, more information about the hydrology of the area is necessary to determine the seriousness of the issue.

For instance, Zambrano said initial information from the engineers indicates that the water well will draw from a groundwater level that is lower than the reach of the treated wastewater.

Nietupski also brought up the 920-foot depth of the well.

"You're pulling water from a much deeper level," Nietupski said after Tuesday's meeting.

City officials also have emphasized that Prescott treats its wastewater to a B+ quality, which means that it is safe for many uses, including irrigation of golf courses and crops.

"Our effluent meets all state and federal water requirements," Nietupski said.

A planned expansion of the Airport Wastewater Treatment Plant will raise the effluent water quality to an A-plus, said Craig Dotseth, city utilities operations manager, making it safe for many other uses as well. That project should be complete by September 2014.

Carollo's design of the arsenic treatment will set the stage for construction of the wellhead system, which Nietupski estimated would cost about $2 million to $2.1 million.

Other related costs include: the $219,936 of this week's arsenic-treatment contract; the $550,000 that the city spent on drilling the well; and $438,605 on the original contract with Carollo, which included development of a well field plan and design of the well.

The new well should be complete by about August 2013, after which the city plans to use it regularly to provide water for its Zone 12, which includes the area around the airport and the land to the northeast and southeast.

The amount of pumping will depend on the demand from those areas, some of which are currently undeveloped.

The airport well will be more economical to operate, Nietupski said, because it is closer to Prescott than the Chino Valley wells, and will require less electricity for pumping.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, April 15, 2012
Article comment by: to: Nim for City Council

I don't know who you or Nim is, but I can tell you that your rant about the sky is falling is (un)sustainable. I can assure you that if you keep it up people will simply shut you out and turn you off. As for not being sustainable since the 1950's, I suggest you do some demographics on this area similar to what you think you have done for Boulder. What you are really saying is that we have never been sustainable...ever. I do not argue with you and do not know that sustainability is possible here. So cry us a river and move to Boulder where water is plentiful and housing is in perfect balance. It sounds just perfect.

Posted: Sunday, April 15, 2012
Article comment by: Nim For City Council, He Would Fit Right In

“Finally, relax about the water thing. It's a red herring. We've got plenty and we'll be just fine.”! Is the type of myopic / moronic thinking that has brought us to this unsustainable situation that we are in. We are already “built out” when you consider the natural water resource that we utilize daily. We haven’t been sustainable with our water supply since the late 1950’s. The Prescott / Chino Valley production wells are dropping / lowering ~1-1.5 feet per year, the Prescott Valley’s wells, ~5-8 feet per year! The plan to bring in water from the Big Chino will dry up the Upper Verde River and would be a temporary stop-gap measure as we guzzled our way through that aquifer as well. We currently just have too many people for the amount of water available on a sustainable basis. Many cities are just fine with a stable population, ever been to Boulder Colorado? Boulder’s population has gained ~4000 folks during the last eleven years, and that curve is flatting out. If someone dies, or moves, someone else moves in. Property values are high, people are happy and they are in balance, they have sustainable natural resources. In that same time period PV and COP both much smaller cities compared to Boulder jumped 22,500 water guzzling souls. The only good thing, our curve is flatting out as well, due to the disastrous economy brought to us by our greedy bankers/ mortgage companies and their friends in Wall Street. A sustainable no-growth population is much better off in many ways compared to an unsustainable rapid growth population.

Posted: Saturday, April 14, 2012
Article comment by: my straw drinks from your milkshake

enough said.

Posted: Saturday, April 14, 2012
Article comment by: More GROWTH foolishness by our 'head in the sand' Prescott City Council.

We did not grow for the last ten years. With the poorish economy, no economic diversity, and the terrible (deserved) image of AZ and Prescott we will probably not grow for years. If at all. Why not repair and fix up our present deteriorating infrastructure instead of wasting money on an impossible investor/developer/ construction trades lobbied dream.

Posted: Saturday, April 14, 2012
Article comment by: NIM BY

What's your suggestion then Tom Steele?? Do we close the city and tell people they can no longer move here?

If a city does not grow, it dies. Just look to many of the towns in the northeast and midwest for proof. Yes, growth brings its own problems, but those problems are better than the alternative.

Finally, relax about the water thing. It's a red herring. We've got plenty and we'll be just fine.

Posted: Saturday, April 14, 2012
Article comment by: Newt Romney

"groundwater level that is lower than the reach of the treated wastewater"... When they can't predict how much we have and they can't supply enough, let them drink their own poo

Posted: Saturday, April 14, 2012
Article comment by: Tom Steele

Is anybody else wondering why all this expense for growth when our water supply is so limited? Over emphasis on new construction for our economic growth will kill Arizona. We are running out of creative ways to find and manage water and it is all getting more expensive. Taxing industry which can provide sustainable jobs must be reduced to attract those jobs. Then, we have the revenues and taxes from workers who have been involved in the feast or famine construction industry. and at the same time we are preserving our precious water supplies. To get ramped up for another housing boom only puts our future water supply at greater risk forever.

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