Why the Code Red Water Emergency?

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david prinzhornCAVE CREEK – On July 1, Utilities Manager David Prinzhorn (l) declared a “Code Red Water Emergency” to which Town Marshall Adam Stein responded by sending out a “Cave Creek Utility Alert” stating, “Due to unforeseen repairs of several pumps combined with excessive temperatures and increased usage over the holiday period, please curtail any excess water usage immediately. This alert is in effect through Sunday July 6.”

The message Prinzhorn sent to town staff, the mayor and council was far more elaborate.

After meeting with Town Clerk Carrie Dyrek, who was acting town manager while Town Manager Peter Jankowski was on vacation, and Mayor Vincent Francia, Prinzhorn was able to declare an emergency, which basically allows Prinzhorn to spend more than he would ordinarily be allowed to spend without council approval.

Prinzorn said the situation arose due to “several events over the past few days” and listed:

1. The loss of a 350 gallon-per-minute water well in Desert Hills due to a pump and motor failure possibly exacerbated by a failed check valve in the well column pipe.

2. A significant decrease in Central Arizona Project (CAP) water delivery to the Water Treatment Plant (WTP) due to excessive Quagga and Zebra mussel buildup at the CAP Pump Station #2. This pump station was just cleaned of this invasive aquatic species less than 30 days ago.

3. The loss of two water booster pumps at the Sentinel Rock Pump Station due to a Three-Phase power leg failure of the APS electric line servicing the facility. This caused both pump motors to burn up and we had several hundred people out of water for most of last night.

4. Due to the excessive amounts of water being consumed due to the hot (100 degree +) weather, the Water Treatment Plant has been unable to keep up with the water demand and consequently our water storage tank levels have dropped to 65 percent of capacity in Cave Creek and 50 percent of capacity in Desert Hills.

Since the town has owned the water utility, it has never before declared a “Code Red Water Emergency,” despite worse problems and far lower water storage levels than 65 percent and 50 percent for Cave Creek and Desert Hills, respectively.

Water storage during the summer months, typically during the hot dryer month of June, water storage has dipped as low as 20 percent without calling for a Code Red Water Emergency, although constant monitoring was employed.

Quagga mussels are nothing new to the water utility and have been a problem that far predates the town’s acquisition.

While Prinzhorn indicated the pump station had been cleaned of the quagga mussels less than 30 days ago, it is a condition that will continue to persist and requires more frequent inspections.

When Prinzhorn provided pictures of the quagga mussel problem during a recent council meeting, he insinuated the problem was caused by the previous administration’s neglect of the town’s water infrastructure.

However, it was Prinzhorn who virtually eliminated water utility maintenance operations in February by moving employees from water maintenance to the wastewater treatment plant.

Alerts of problems generated by the water utility’s computer program is usually generated after an equipment failure has already occurred at unmanned and/or uninspected locations, whereas visual inspections and preventative maintenance might have avoided such failures.

So, once again, Prinzhorn has submitted after-the-fact invoices to Jankowski for approval for more than $46,500 in expenditures to Laveen Pump for well replacement and replacement of the CAP 2 submersible pump for the “Water Emergency” that occurred prior to the July 4 holiday weekend.

Prinzhorn is also requesting approval to purchase “Water Network Modeling Software” from Innovyze in the amount of $12,489.

According to Prinzhorn, this is sole-source software and is the only compatible software that matches the previous work performed in developing the model that will integrate with the existing GIS software to model the water distribution system network.

He said it is the same software Waterworks Engineers used to create the model as part of the Water Master Plan work completed in FY 2014.

Additionally, Prinzhorn is requesting approval for an expenditure of $37,200 to replace 1,200 5/8 inch and 3/4 inch water meters in Desert Hills to complete the transition of hand-read meters to direct read utilizing drive-by radio technology.

The bids ranged from $37,200 ($31 per meter) to $66,000 ($55 per meter).

Prinzhorn is also seeking approval for an expenditure of $14,001.68 to have over 6,000 sheets of drawings and plans scanned and digitally archived “per Arizona State Standards for historic lifetime preservation.”

The price is a discounted contract that piggy-backs off a city of Chandler agreement for discounted state services.

Following the archiving, the physical drawings will be destroyed per the state of Arizona records disposal policy.

That’s not all. Prinzhorn has asked for approval of an expenditure in the amount of $25,395.36 to purchase replacement fiber membranes for the Unit 2 filter trail at the wastewater treatment plant. He says it is a sole-source purchase to match existing equipment.

All of these items are on the Monday, July 21 town council meeting agenda.

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