RIMROCK - Montezuma Rimrock Water Company announced in a Christmas greeting to its customers that it has begun delivering water that meets U.S. Environmental Protection Agency arsenic standards.
The announcement came as a surprise, not only to the utility's customers but also to Yavapai County and others who have been monitoring the company's attempts to install an arsenic treatment facility.
In fact, it seems as though the only agency that knew anything about the system coming online was the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.
On Nov. 21, ADEQ issued an Approval of Construction allowing MRWC to operate its arsenic treatment facility.
The approval came just eight days after a county hearing officer had ordered the capping of a commercial well the company had built on a residential lot. The company had testified to the county that it needed the well, known officially as Well #4, in order to operate the arsenic treatment plant.
On Monday, concerned the company was using water from the illegal well, the county told the company to remove the well's meter, effectively severing it from the water system.
But that order was rescinded on Tuesday, according to Steve Mauk, director of Yavapai County's Development Services, when the company's attorney and ADEQ notified the county that the system was operating on the company's two existing wells.
Further confusing the matter was a statement from ADEQ spokesperson Mark Shaffer, declaring that the arsenic treatment system doesn't need any water from Well #4 to operate adequately.
"ADEQ's approval does not guarantee a system's performance in the future. However, based upon engineering information provided by the system and system representatives, the system can currently operate and meet system water demands without the use of well #4," Shaffer stated in an email.
ADEQ's statement contradicts a 2009 report from the Arizona Corporation Commission. That report noted that the utility's current system, including its two wells and 30,000-gallon storage capacity, is capable of serving only 92 connections.
To serve the company's current 202 customers, the report states that the system would require an additional 30,000 gallons of storage capacity. Well #4 would have been capable of serving up to 425 customers without the need for additional storage capacity, according to the report.
The company has applied to the ACC and ADEQ to install two, 14-foot-diameter, three-story tall, 30,000 gallons of storage tanks, for $29,000 each. One tank would replace the company's existing tanks and the second could be used to meet current demand, if the company cannot use Well #4.
The company's announcement that the system is operational, along with ADEQ's declaration that the system can operate adequately on its existing wells, brings into question most of the costs included in MRWC's recent request for a rate increase.
MRWC is proceeding with a rate increase of $77,000 a year to pay for the two new tanks and the arsenic treatment plan, but they are also looking for reimbursement for all costs associated with Well #4, including a pipeline connecting it to the arsenic treatment facility and $47,000 in legal fees.
If made to pay the requested amount, MRWC customers could see a jump in their basic monthly water rate from $27.75 a month to as much as $67.32 a month.
In the meantime, the Yavapai County hearing officer's ruling, requiring the company to cap Well #4 and remove all improvements by Dec. 20 still stands, according to Mauk
The company has appealed the hearing officer's decision to the board of supervisors, who will hear the appeal at its Dec. 17 meeting in Cottonwood.
Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Article comment by:
Rose Mary, Thank you for the same old rant "Shoot the Messenger!". It is what we expect from a Montezuma Rimrock Water Co. (MRWC) minion. Why don't you speak up when your employer lies to Yavapai County officials? Why don't you identify yourself as an MRWC employee? Are you ashamed of the money you take from the MRWC?
Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012
Article comment by:
Rose, Of course you want your employer, MRWC to stay. You are part of this renegade company!
Your hatred is misdirected. It's the county that imposed the judgment ordering MRWC to clear the illegal well from the residential lot.
It's the Superior Court that upheld the water code MRWC wanted tossed out.
And it will be the ACC that will determine the final rate increase and whether MRWC should be allowed to stay in business.
But right now, MRWC is seeking a 115 percent rate increase plus two surcharges on top of the rate hike--both about $6/month. One is to cover MRWC's legal expenses and the other to pay for two, 30,000 gallon water storage tanks.
It's important for MRWC customers to call the Arizona Corporation to complain if their water has been cut off without 10-day written notice or they have been overcharged.
The ACC will review this information in next year's rate increase public hearing. Call 800-222-7000 or go to: http://www.azcc.gov/divisions/utilities/consumerservices.asp
Don't be intimidated! You have rights!
By the way, Rose, are you going to put in a bid on the MRWC office that is now up for short sale? Why is MRWC selling its office anyway? Is the company preparing to split?
Posted: Sunday, December 9, 2012
Article comment by:
NO DOUGHERY, WHAT THIS COMMUNITY NEEDS IS FOR YOU AND YOUR BUDDY IVO TO QUIT STIRRING UP TROUBLE AND MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS. EVERYTIME YOU DISCUSS THIS SUBJECT OVER THE PAST 3 YEARS (HOLY CRAP) YOUR REASON FOR BEING AGAINST THE WATER COMPANY HAS CHANGED. YOU AND IVO NEED TO GET A JOB AND A LIFE AND LEAVE OUR NEIGHBORHOOD ALONE. NEITHER OF YOU ARE WANTED AND YOUR LOSS WOULD GO UNNOTICED. YOU KNOW VERY WELL THAT THE ACC SETS THE RATE INCREASE, NOT MRWC. YOU ARE HOPING TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PEOPLE'S IGNORANCE OF FACTS TO MAKE YOURSELVES LOOK ESTEEMED. GET A JOB AND A LIFE FOR A CHANGE
Posted: Thursday, December 6, 2012
Article comment by:
It is now obvious that MRWC could have activated the Arsenic Treatment System and met federal drinking water standards years ago.
Instead, the company sacrificed the health of its customers in a selfish and misguided attempt to bring an illegal well online.
Now, the company wants to screw its customers again by seeking a 115 percent rate increase to cover costs associated with building the illegal well and a pipeline to nowhere.
The company's owner even wants ratepayers to pay for her car, which she drives to Rimrock from her home in Flagstaff.
The residents of this community need an honest water company, not only to provide safe drinking water, but to provide adequate fire protection, which is sorely lacking.
I urge the Board of Supervisors at its Dec. 17 meeting to uphold a judgment entered last month against MRWC that requires the company to cap Well No. 4 and remove all its property from the residential lot.
The judgment also imposes a $10,000 fine on MRWC if the company fails to clear the lot by Dec. 20.
If MRWC refuses to do so -- and it has taken no steps as of Dec. 6 to begin clearing the lot -- then the county should exercise its right to file criminal charges against the company and its owner.
The time for this travesty of justice to end past long ago.