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4/29/2014 11:07:00 AM
Williams makes progress on Rodeo Well
Williams City Manager Brandon Buchanan discusses the city's water supply at the April 24 council meeting. Marissa Freireich/WGCN
Williams City Manager Brandon Buchanan discusses the city's water supply at the April 24 council meeting. Marissa Freireich/WGCN

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - City officials are moving forward with steps to find new water sources in the midst of Williams' water crisis.

The Williams City Council discussed the status of the water supply issue at its April 24 meeting.

Because of a lack of precipitation, the city declared a water crisis and implemented water restrictions Feb. 25.

City Manager Brandon Buchanan told the council that the week prior a company was in town to address a metal banding issue in the Rodeo Well that was preventing further exploration.

Initial water testing came back on the day of the meeting, and city officials sent the samples to a consultant and pump manufacturer. Based on those samples, they have recommended a pump for the well and are putting together a complete proposal for the project.

When the city has installed the equipment and pumped water from the well for 30 days, workers will take new water samples. At that point, the city can determine if it will be economically feasible to treat the water from the Rodeo Well based on the arsenic, carbon dioxide and dissolved oxygen levels.

Buchanan said the city is also continuing to investigate possible well sites on Garland Prairie Road and South Road. A company was set to arrive this week to complete a geophysical study of the two areas. The study will use radar to map underground structures and determine where water is likely to be located. It will take about two weeks until the city receives the data from the studies, which cost about $40,000 total.

Buchanan said the city has exhausted the usable water in Cataract Lake. At the time of the meeting, city workers were switching over to using water from the city's two wells. When demand increases during the summer tourism season, the city will supplement the well production with about 140 million gallons of usable water in Dogtown Lake. Since the end of February when the city was still using lake water, officials were pumping well water into Dogtown Lake to use as a stockpile during peak summer demand.

Vice Mayor Don Dent asked to see how the water usage numbers from this year compare to last year to determine if the level four water restrictions have been effective.

"Where we should see the drop off is in the next 30-60 days when people actually started watering gardens," he said. "We need to be watching to see if this thing's working and if people are cooperating."

Mayor John Moore said he's seen some people who are not complying with the restrictions, and Buchanan said the city has issued a few citations.

Moore said the city needed to keep investigating new water supplies, despite the cost.

"We are not going to move slowly on these projects," he said. "We are going to keep pushing."

Tentative budget

In other council news, the council reviewed and discussed the tentative 2014-2015 budget. The tentative budget includes about a 7 percent increase from the previous budget. The total tentative budget for 2014/2015 is $20,256,697, up from $18,877,503 in 2013/2014.

The budget includes enough money for as much as a 3 percent pay raise for city employees, if the city decides to do so.

Buchanan said the raises could be calculated based on performance evaluations, a cost of living adjustment or a combination of those factors.

Councilman Bernie Hiemenz said he wanted to see a breakdown of how the raises would be awarded to the different employees.

Vice Mayor Don Dent agreed.

"I don't like the straight percentage because it rewards the higher paid employees more than it does the guys on the lower end who probably need the help more," he said.

The council is set to adopt the tentative budget at a May 8 meeting. After that, the city will publish the budget once a week for two consecutive weeks before putting on a public hearing about the budget on May 29. The council may adopt the final budget at that meeting.

City election

The council also passed a resolution regarding the 2014 elections.

The city's primary election will take place Aug. 26. The primary will determine the candidates for mayor and candidates for three city council seats whose names will appear on the ballot for the Nov. 4 general election. If a candidate receives a majority of all votes in the primary, they will be elected without having to run in the general election.

Vice Mayor Don Dent and Councilmen Bernie Hiemenz and Lee Payne are completing their terms this year and will run for reelection. The three councilmen, along with the mayor, picked up their nomination papers April 28.

Those interested in running for mayor or council may obtain nomination papers and other required materials at City Hall, 113 S. First St. Candidates must return their completed nomination petitions to pick up their nomination papers. Candidates must return their completed nomination forms by 5 p.m. on May 28 for their names to appear on the primary ballot. This is also the deadline for arguments to be included in a publicity pamphlet pertaining to the election. Arguments supporting or opposing propositions may not exceed 300 words, cost $150, and must include the signatures of each sponsor as well as their address and phone number, which will not be printed.

Voters in the primary election will also consider renewing the alternative expenditure limitation, also known as the home rule option, for the next four years.

If voters approve the home rule option, the city estimates it would be allowed to spend the following amounts in the next four years, based on the estimated revenue that will be available: $20,256,697 in 2014-2015, $20,524,880 in 2015-2016, $20,868,492 in 2016-2017 and $21,220,580 in 2017-2018.

If voters do not approve the home rule option, the city will have to follow state-imposed expenditure limits. This would restrict spending to about $11,035,548 in 2014-2015, $10,965,592 in 2015-2016, $11,169,441 in 2016-2017, and $11,299,163 in 2017-2018.

In order to vote in the primary election, people must be registered with Coconino County by July 28.

More information about the election is available from the city at (928) 635-4451.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, May 17, 2014
Article comment by: Who is In charge?

The former operators liscense did cover both water and wastewater treatment. It also covered water distribution and wastewater collection as well. In most utilities there are a supervisor for each of the 4 areas certified to a level required by the state. We had 1. His liscense was on the line for the water treatment plant, wastewater plant, and all water and sewer infsstructure for thd whole city. You can only serve 1 master. I wonder how he made it 25 years at all. While this operator was running around with a box of band aids for fixes, the operator who is job is sampling and reporting is in the council chambers having screaming matches with other water employees. If sample results are not being submitted I assure you it's not an operators decision, that comes from the city manager. Turning in consistent bad samples is a sure way to get HELP from the ADEQ. That's what they do, they certainly don't want williams to fail.

Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Article comment by: Peter Cook

Yes, Williams is turning into Bell, California and the citizens don't seem to care. We, the citizens must vote these greedy men out of office! If not, our roads will never get repaired, the zip line will remain, unpopular, too lazy to take it down, and thus our tourism will flounder.
Our town should look like a charming western town but instead it looks like ....
So get involved, watch these crooks and VOTE!

Posted: Monday, May 12, 2014
Article comment by: Bad Water

In response to "Who is in Charge?" The Waste Water Treatment plant has failed sampling test for four months last fall. The past quarter of sampling has not even been submitted to ADEQ, the environmental governing body for the State of Arizona, for fear of failure. When the Operator was questioned he raised his arms up and said "I don't know what's going on." So much for 25 years of experience. This ineptitude cannot be tolerated when public and environmental health is involved. Does this extended to the water treatment facility as well - the above Operators license also covers the water treatment plant - brown water, high and low chlorine? 25 years of experience? Good riddance.

Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Article comment by: Who is In Charge?

The only operator the city had on staff that is certified to a level required by law to operate our system has turned in his notice. The city will now be operating in a non-compliance condition. Upon receiving this operators resignation the city manager responded with "We didn't lose much". What we lost was 25 years of experience and the only thing keeping the system operating legally. The solution? The city is now contacting private utility contractors to submit bids to run the water/wastewater system. Why would the city manager feel it is right to hire private companies for public jobs. That is an expensive Band-Aid. The recent hiring of a public works director will do nothing to help this situation. The job posting called for a small town generalist with heavy water wastewater experience and certifications. This is not who the city manager hired. In fact, the new public works director is not certified in any area of waste/wastewater but is being expected to make decision that affect public health. I am tired of seeing Williams jobs going to people from out of town. The city should look for qualified people that live here, shop here, pay taxes here. An army of lions led by a donkey will be crushed by an army of donkeys led by a Lion every time. Its time to find that Lion.

Posted: Saturday, May 3, 2014
Article comment by: Robert Blass

I read where the city employees want a 3 percent raise plus bonuses. Heck, the Feds have only given employees a1 percent raise once in the past 5 years because inflation has been so low. Why should we pay for such an increase for our city employees? Is Williams turning into another Bell, CA?

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