UPDATE: This article was first published Dec. 5. Since then, it was learned that the City of Phoenix is re-evaluating its Dec. 31 deadline to shut off the supply of hydrant water trucked to residents of New River and Desert Hills, according to Phoenix Councilwoman Thelda Williams. No decision has been made, however. The city is waiting on word from EPCOR as to when the station will be operational. EPCOR subsequently provided North Phoenix News with an estimate for completion. [Full Story]
EPCOR’s planned location for the water-hauling station (right) and an alternative site suggested by others (left) that is no longer under consideration.
UPDATED 10:01 a.m. Dec. 6 — EPCOR will build a water-hauling station on an acre of land leased from Anthem to serve residents of New River and Desert Hills who rely on trucked-in water, closing a chapter on more than two months of negotiations and effectively putting to rest alternative proposals.
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According to Jenna Kohl, Anthem Community Executive Officer, EPCOR Vice President of Operations Troy Day informed Anthem Community Council today that the utility will move forward with an option, granted by Anthem, to lease the property and build the station. Kohl announced the decision at a special meeting of Anthem Community Council tonight.
Once a final contract is signed, a two-week waiting period will begin, according to the terms of the lease. Then EPCOR will be free to proceed. The utility already received approval from the Arizona Corporation Commission to move ahead with the project.
Time is of the essence.
Phoenix announced this summer that it plans at the end of this year to shut off the supply of hydrant water used by water-hauling companies to supply some 1,000 to 1,500 rural residents who rely on trucked-in water.
EPCOR has said it will take about 2 months to build the station.
Bridge the Gap?
The grassroots group New River/Desert Hills Water, which advocated for the project, has been in talks with Phoenix to extend the deadline if EPCOR agreed to build the station. After alternative proposals caused EPCOR to step back from the negotiations two weeks ago, New River/Desert Hills Water gathered 700 signatures of support to help convince EPCOR that the utility’s original proposal was the best solution. The volunteer group also worked to allay concerns of residents who live near the planned station.
“EPCOR’s decision and schedule will enable us to work with the City of Phoenix to secure a definitive extension of the deadline to shut off access to City hydrant meters used by water haulers serving our area,” said Julie Elliott, president of New River/Desert Hills Water.
“The EPCOR hauling station will help keep water costs down while the community works on a long-term solution to our water problems,” Elliott said. The group aims to form a Domestic Water Improvement District, which could seek water supplies from EPCOR or other providers. Such a district would be governed by the county and not subject to oversight by the Arizona Corporation Commission. The process could take six months, Elliott has said.
Details of the Deal
Here are the details of the lease agreement, determined in mid-November and reported previously:
The Water: EPCOR does not have a firm estimate for how much water will be supplied to rural areas, but it will draw from a 300 acre-foot supply of water that it currently recharges back into the ground each year. (One acre-foot equals 326,000 gallons, enough to cover a football field about a foot deep.) Should more be needed, EPCOR says it has various unused water credits through the Central Arizona Project that it could call in.
The Lease: 20 years, with the option for two 2-year extensions if both parties agree. The dollar amount of the lease was not released.
Hours of Operation: 7 days a week, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Residents near the station wondered how many trucks a day the operation would involved. Day said he didn’t have a firm number but estimated 15 to 25.
Impact on Anthem: The contract requires that the rural water supply have no impact on Anthem’s water supply or rates. The hauling station will be accessed from Desert Hills Drive. None of the truck traffic bound for rural homes will enter Anthem.
Where the Water Will Go: The Corporation Commission has required that the water go to New River and Desert Hills residents only, Day said, adding that EPCOR has not yet determined how it will enforce that rule.
This article was updated Dec. 6 to include comments from Julie Elliott, president of New River/Desert Hills Water.