Pictured is the location where the future standpipe, water station will be located at Cave Creek's Water Ranch near 44th Street and Carefree Highway
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West Side Cave Creek expected to get water by February


Tara Alatorre

CAVE CREEK –On Dec. 18, the Cave Creek Town Council unanimously approved the purchase of a standpipe bulk loading water station that will be located at the town’s wastewater treatment plant near the Carefree Highway and 44th Street; providing its west side residents with a potable water source just months before Phoenix prepares to turn off the faucet for water haulers in the area.

 The water station will provide a reliable, clean water resource for Cave Creek residents on the west side of town, which have relied on water haulers for years, and have been actively petitioning the town to build waterlines so they can gain access to municipal water; even threatening to sue the town over a year ago.

The Town Engineer, Dave Peterson, recommended to the town council  at the Dec. 18 meeting that it accept the $32,695 bid from Illinois based Elemech Electrical for the water station, software, warranty and onsite startup, because it was the lowest bidder that provided all of the town’s needs, Peterson said.

The bid does not include onsite improvements at the town’s wastewater treatment plant that the town staff would perform, which would be additional $15,000, bringing the total cost of the project to $47,000 approximately, clarified the Town Manager, Carrie Dyrek, during the meeting.

The water station should be up and running by the second week of February, just in time for the April deadline Phoenix set for water haulers, who have been delivering residential water acquired from Phoenix fire hydrants using dust control permits.

“Your manager has been moving heaven and earth to make sure water was available to your west side community,” said the Town Attorney, Bill Sims. “We didn’t know that Phoenix would extend the water haulers deadline, so we’ve been working diligently to get this done before the water haulers in Desert Hills get cutoff."

For several years wells have been drying up due to drought, causing some Cave Creek residents to become reliant on water haulers. Residents living on the west side of town were promised public connections to the municipal water grid in 2015, after the town council approved the Cahava Springs Special Tax District in 2015, and have struggled since to get running water in their homes.

The approval of the water station came with a strict service agreement promising exclusivity to the water for residents living in what is known as the West Cave Creek Service Area (WCCSA), as part of an ongoing effort to provide them with running water and public connections to the grid. Only about 90 residentslive in the WCCSA boundaries, which are north of Tanya Road and east of 24th Street, and south of Rockaway Hills Road and west of 34th Street, said Sims.

“What this does is allow water to flow in a time when Phoenix was about to stop water,” Sims said.  “It allows your constituents to pay for water at a less expensive rate than they would have paid Phoenix.”

The service agreement has a temporal cap, which means in three years residents of the WCCSA will need to create a domestic water improvement district (DWID) so they can tax themselves, and build a pipeline that connects to Cave Creek’s grid within five years.  If the DWID is not created and the water pipeline is not constructed in five years from the service agreement the town can terminate the contract, according to the service agreement.

West side residents rejoiced at the town council’s ability to finally fulfill their promise to deliver them a water source, and some spoke during the public comment period to express their gratitude.

Bill BeSeur, says that he pays almost $350 a month to get water delivered to his home, he told the town council at the meeting that the same amount of water would only cost about $85 a month if he was getting it from Cave Creek.

Although EPCOR struck a deal to build a standpipe in Desert Hills, the water can only go to that municipality and New River, so water haulers would not be able to service Cave Creek residents after the April deadline, he said.

“This is what good government looks like,” BeSeur said.  “You are going to advert a crisis before there is one.”