Water conservation encouraged through dry, hot spell

By Linda Bentley | August 5, 2009

‘We’re selling more water than we can produce’
CAVE CREEK – Mayor Vincent Francia announced the next council meeting will be held on Sept. 21.

He then presented Kris Bishop, director, Desert Foothills Library, with a check in the amount of $45,124 from Maricopa County as a result of the town entering into an intergovernmental agreement that allows residents of other communities to use participating public libraries without incurring a fee.

During Call to the Public, Utilities Manager Jessica Marlow cautioned because of the dry, hot spell we’ve been having, devoid of monsoon rains, the town was selling more water than it could produce and storage was down to 40 percent.

Without any rain in the forecast, Marlow said, unless people make a conscious effort to conserve water, the storage level is expected to drop even more.

She asked that citizens refrain from using water during peak periods (4 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.) and temporarily eliminate high water demand activities such as filling swimming pools, landscape watering, filling horse watering troughs and running dishwashers or washing machines without full loads.

Other suggestions included taking shorter showers, resetting timers to water landscaping every other day or for shorter periods of time and checking for leaks or running toilets.
Many desert-adapted plants can go anywhere from seven to 30 days or more without watering.

Marlow said the town has temporarily closed off the Carefree interconnect line, since Carefree is also able to obtain water from Scottsdale. By Tuesday morning, she confirmed the shutdown allowed the town to maintain storage at 40 percent through the night, and had actually increased storage by about 2 percent.

Herb Natker also spoke during Call to the Public to ask if water customers can be offered a “budget plan” for their water bills, indicating something similar to APS’ Equalizer Plan, so they will know how much to budget each month for water.

Council unanimously approved every item on the agenda beginning with the appointment of Greg Smith to fill a vacancy on the Green Advisory Committee through the end of the term expiring Dec. 31, 2011.

Council also approved the second reading of the ordinance levying a tax rate of $.6452 per $100 of assessed property valuation to pay for the town’s share of the purchase of Spur Cross Ranch.

Town Accountant Marian Groeneveld reiterated this is not a new tax and due to refinancing a few years ago, the debt will be paid off in 2012, nine years sooner than originally expected.

The town approved granting APS a utility easement for service along Carefree Highway and into the new wastewater treatment plant and installation work to be performed by APS to provide electrical service to the plant. APS will pay the town $28,768 for the utility easement and the town will pay APS $28,768 for the installation work to serve the plant.

Marlow requested approval for expenditures not to exceed $46,595 to be paid to Construction Inspecting and Testing Company (CIT) for materials testing services for the wastewater treatment plant and pipeline construction.

She explained the town removed this item from the wastewater plant contract so the town could oversee the inspections and testing.

Councilman Adam Trenk said, “I know it’s only a couple hundred dollars,” but asked why Marlow selected CIT over Acura Engineering.

Marlow said CIT had references with experience in water and wastewater plants while Acura’s experience was more in the line of warehouse slabs and smaller jobs.

The next item was presented by Ralph Mozilo, who prioritized hiring a chief financial officer, revisions to the subdivision approval process with regard to the final plat and site plan review and amending Appendix A of the zoning ordinance as the three most important items from the White Paper for the town to implement.

He said, obviously, the hiring of a CFO would not take place this year, but it would get the process started.

During public comment, Bob Moore congratulated the White Paper committee and said, “I recommended hiring a CFO about four years ago. I support this action and am delighted it is coming forth.

Last, council approved funds not to exceed $18,500 to Henry & Horne, LLP to conduct an audit of the comprehensive annual financial report for fiscal year 2009.

According to Groeneveld, this is a requirement of the federal government due to the $2 million forgivable principal provided to WIFA through federal stimulus funds. She said this is a requirement when federal grants exceed $500,000.