City responds to alleged water misuses

Since Williams’ depleted water supply continues to be a major local issue, it’s no surprise the topic resurfaced at last Thursday’s regular city council meeting.

Early in the meeting Dennis Dalbeck, city manager, made an effort to discount recent misconceptions relating to Elephant Rocks Golf Course and water rates.

“I’d like to respond to a couple of rumors,” Dalbeck said. “First, we are not using water from Cataract Lake to water the golf course.

“The pumps there have not been on since last summer.”

Moving on to water rates, Dalbeck said the city had received as many as 20 recent calls from concerned citizens who had heard water rates would increase by $65 a month over existing rates.

“The city has not had a water rate increase in the past six years,” Dalbeck said. “We are not considering an increase at this time.

“If we should do so, it would be through a public process.”

Well update

Near the close of the meeting, Jim Hoffman, mayor, gave an update on Dogtown Well.

“The extreme amount of sand and sediment played havoc with the pump,” he said referring to the fact the submersible pump burned up during testing on April 9. “We will have a new pump here Friday.”

Hoffman said until the pump arrives, efforts are being made to determine how much sediment remains in the Dogtown bore hole as well as trying to bring production back up on Santa Fe Well.

Ron Stilwell, public works director, said the sediment wore out the pump’s internal parts and a new pump with more than 300 gallon-per-minute capacity would be installed at Dogtown. Prior to the breakdown, the well produced as much as 280 gallons per minute for short intervals during testing.

“The (temporary) waterline from the well to below Dogtown Reservoir is almost connected,” Hoffman said. “The preliminary opinion from geologists and hydrologists is that we should extend a wellfield west.

“This aquifer flows to the south, not to the northwest, and would not be pumping from the one that affects the Havasupai area.”

Hoffman said as well development continues, the city continues to work closely with U.S. Forest Service on National Environmental Protection Act stipulations.

“Santa Fe Well dropped down to 22 gallons per minute during testing after maintaining at 124 per minute,” Stilwell said. “We thought the screen had become plugged.”

While waiting for a new Dogtown pump, Stilwell said an attempt will be made to use chemical treatment to unplug the screen.

“If this makes marginal improvements, we will use other techniques (such as surging and swabbing) to redevelop the Santa Fe Well,” said Joe Duffy, assistant city manager and finance director.

Bond issue

“We hope to be out to bid at the end of this month (on additional well exploration) in anticipation of community support of the bond issue,” he said. “We intend to be ready when we get the vote to go on.

I feel confident this bond will pass.”

On April 10 at a specially called meeting, Williams City Council voted to add a $3 million water development bond issue to the May 16 general election to fund additional well drilling efforts.

Duffy stressed this bond will tap general revenues and will have no effect on local property taxes.

“General revenue bonds are paid back by revenues from whatever enterprise or entity designated in this case Williams water, sewer and electric utilities,” he said.

Water reserves

Hoffman, said runoff has slightly raised water reserves. He also cautioned that it’s not likely for those levels to rise much more with the onset of spring weather.

The five city reservoirs are now at 21 percent capacity, a 1 percent increase over the last three weeks. Water levels in Santa Fe rose from 3 to 11 percent, Kaibab (from 31 to 34 percent) and Dogtown (5 to 8 percent).

A total of a 186 million gallons are currently available with 213 million gallons in storage. Total reservoir capacity is 894 million gallons. The average daily system demand also dropped down during this timeframe from 500,000 to 480,000 gallons.

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