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Sun, March 29

Williams City Council approves $416,000 Rodeo Well proposal

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Calling the city's water crisis an emergency, Williams City Council members unanimously approved a proposal to buy equipment for the Rodeo Well at their May 8 meeting.

The $416,015 proposal from Drill Tech includes delivery and labor to install a pump, motor and other equipment at the Rodeo Well.

Once the equipment is in place and the city pumps the Rodeo Well for 30 days, workers will take 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.

The proposal also includes an additional pump that will serve as a backup for the pumps in the Dogtown wells.

Because of a lack of precipitation, the city declared a water crisis and implemented the highest level of water restrictions Feb. 25. Prior to the vote, Mayor John Moore read a statement highlighting the urgency of the city's water situation.

"An emergency exists and it is in the interest of the public's health, safety and welfare that the city council move forward with this project immediately," he said. "Drill Tech is familiar with the well and its many challenges and is prepared to act immediately for the city's benefit. For those reasons I recommend the city council forgo the normal procurement process and accept the proposal as presented from Drill Tech for the amount of $416,015.05."

Councilman Craig Fristinger asked if the amount of money outlined in the proposal was a guaranteed maximum or if there were any possibilities of saving money.

City Manager Brandon Buchanan said there was a possibility that the company could piecemeal the variable frequency drive to save as much as $30,000.

Moore said he would rather go with a completed part that would be taken off the shelf.

"With all due respect, $30,000 is a lot of money, but in the overall cost of this thing I don't want to piecemeal anything," he said. "I think we should just get it done and move forward."

Vice Mayor Don Dent noted that the pumps in the proposal were designed to be interchangeable between the Rodeo Well and the two Dogtown Wells. He emphasized that the backup pump was an important part of the proposal.

"Our biggest fear this summer when we're just on the wells is that if one of those pumps quits we're six to eight weeks out from being able to replace the pump," he said. "We can't find enough trucks to haul water fast enough to cover that. So we need a backup pump and we need to spend the money now to get it done."

Financing

Council members also directed staff to proceed with applying for money from the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority (WIFA) for water supply projects.

"They are in the business of lending money to cities who definitely need it and we are a city that is in need," said Finance Director Keith Buonocore.

Buchanan said the city will have to outline which projects it wants to pursue so WIFA will have an idea of how much money city officials are asking for.

Obtaining money for a new well to address the city's water supply issue would be a top priority.

The water meter replacement program would also be high on the list. As water meters age, they gradually start to under-register the amount of water customers use, meaning residents are paying for less water than they are using. After testing 21 residential water meters earlier this year, officials found that on average the meters were registering with about 72 percent accuracy.

Since the city's water meter replacement program is considered a "green program," Buonocore said WIFA might be able to lower the interest rate and forgive some of the principal on the loan for that project.

Dent suggested that replacing the Dogtown supply lines should be added to the list of proposed projects for WIFA funding.

Although the city has several projects that could use the funding, Buchanan said applying for the loans would be a balancing act.

"We can certainly give them 20 pages of projects that we need," he said. "But what are we actually going to be able to pay back? What kind of additional debt can we carry?"

Buonocore said the city should be as specific as possible when filling out the final loan application.

"And what we're looking at is supply and the meter program, because the meter program will turn revenues around as a payback," he said, referring to the additional money the city would collect with new meters that register water usage accurately.

If the city submits the loan application within the month, Buonocore said WIFA would send two engineers to town to assess the water infrastructure needs.

Councilman Bernie Hiemenz said those infrastructure needs would be apparent to the engineers.

"If you can get them up here I don't think we'll have a problem," he said.

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