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Water delivery issues discussed at council meeting


Tara Alatorre

CAVE CREEK – The Cave Creek Town Council scheduled a special work session for Sept. 26 to continue discussing and working out the details necessary for delivering  water to west-side residents, after hearing recommendations from the town’s attorney, town manager and members of the water advisory board during last week’s council meeting.

The biggest problem the town council and engineers face is many areas of the town will see a significant increase in water pressure, which could cause damage to homes because pipes could burst under the added stress. The added water pressure is necessary so the town can pump the water to the west-side of town and into the Saddle Mountain, Desert Hills and Cahava Springs area, according to the Town Engineer, Dave Peterson.

“If we had at pump station at the northeast corner of 24th and Joy Ranch, then everything could be normal pressure of 70 to 90 [psi] on high end, but that would cost money, probably $200,000 to $300,000,” Peterson said at Monday’s meeting.

However, Town Manager Peter Jankowski objected to the proposal, saying it would be difficult to build the costly station by the December deadline set by the town for delivering water to the west-side. 

“My instructions were get water to the west side by December,” said Jankowski. “I do believe along the line you will need booster stations, not today, but in 15 years, yes.”

The town’s attorney agreed to Jankowski’s apprehensions, saying it would be against the state constitution to use town capital improvement funds to benefit the private Cahava Springs project regardless.

“It [new station]could be leased with a date by where it had to be dedicated free of charge,” the lawyer said. “Then I think I could justify spending public funds to increase the water pressure to serve town water customers, but the operative word was date certain for dedication, and mechanism for reimbursement.”

Bob Morris, a member of the Cave Creek Water Advisory Committee and an engineer, voiced concerns over the town council setting a precedent that is unnecessary, saying that water pressure is a problem towns face nationwide.

“Most towns do nothing about it, I don’t know any town that guarantees what happens on the customer side, the key is notification,” Morris said.

He thinks the town just needs to provide residents ample notification, giving homeowners time to install pressure reducing valves or PRVs, which solves the problem of high water pressure resulting from the improvements, without having to build an expensive booster station.

“My point is here is don’t make this worse than it is, don’t set a precedent you don’t have to set,” Morris said. “Over half of the town needs PRVs.”

Mayor Vincent Francia directed the town council to continue the discussion on the waterline infrastructure improvements in a special work session on Monday, Sept. 26, after it reviews some legal complexities before moving forward. He directed the town manager to add an item for the council to vote on regarding the town’s liability in controlling high water pressure in the next regular council meeting.

Terry Smith, the west-side resident who propelled this topic forward by threatening a lawsuit last month, spoke to express his gratitude to the town council for moving forward in the right direction.

“Yes, we would love to have had it where we could come down here and you turn a valve and we have water,” said Smith.  “It is not that simple, and that has been very clear to all of us, we’ll support the town, and I support the town’s effort.”