Carefree Water Company approves 3 percent increase

By Curtis Riggs | July 8, 2009

Going with smaller, annual increases
CAREFREE – The town council approved a 3 percent increase in water rates for the Carefree Water Company Tuesday in an effort to help the water company cope with rising Central Arizona Project (CAP) water delivery costs and other increasing operating expenses.

The council, which was sitting as the Board of Directors of the Carefree Water Company, approved the small rate increase as it also imposed a $2.50 transaction fee for people using credit cards to pay their water bills, created a Problem Resolutions Board to deal with customer issues and took steps to increase water pressure in northeast Carefree neighbors.

CWC General Manager Stan Francom cited increases in CAP delivery charges from both Scottsdale and Cave Creek in his reasoning for the 3 percent increase. Despite a recent rate increase in Scottsdale, and another one planned for November, Francom expects Carefree to take 209 acre-feet of CAP water from Scottsdale this year.

Francom hopes to receive 340 acre-feet of CAP through the Cave Creek Water Company system this year. Cave Creek has upgraded its Galloway pumping station in anticipation of delivering Carefree that much water.

Francom anticipates pumping 441 acre-feet of groundwater from the aquifer in the Carefree-Cave Creek Basin this year to round out the amount of water, which will be made available to its customers this year. He cited an anticipated 10 percent increase in electrical costs, which comes from pumping the groundwater, as another need for the rate increase.

He has talked about going with smaller annual increases for years instead of the larger ones, which bring out many complaints from customers. Carefree Water Company rates rose significantly earlier in the decade when water officials spent a good deal of money on upgrading the old water company infrastructure and created an emergency water supply with the building of several storage tanks.

He also recommended the water board eliminate maintenance contracts for water tanks except the 150,000-gallon tank.