A recap of the Carefree Water Reservoir Situation

I would like to address some of the comments being circulated opposing the proposed site for the underground fresh water storage reservoir in an existing utility easement along Tom Darlington Road in the Boulders community.

First, 1000 plus Carefree residents living on the south and west sides of Carefree have a real problem with their existing water service with no representation to address their issues. Something had to be changed. The Carefree Water Company and outside engineering professionals evaluated all reasonable solutions, and determined that integrating those accounts into the Carefree Water Company system was the best long-term solution.

Utility infrastructure has to go somewhere in the community it serves. For this integration to proceed, it required one additional water storage reservoir to service the expanded Carefree Water system. On a comparative basis, this additional required reservoir is relatively small relative to the buried one million gallon reservoir already in Carefree. Reservoirs function to provide additional water to accounts during heavy usage times, and for fire service throughout the entire system. Reservoirs typically are placed in sites at a higher elevation than the areas they service to take advantage of gravity. For example, water service for the Boulders subdivision is currently supplied through a reservoir located at a higher elevation in another subdivision to the north of the Boulders.

Siting a reservoir is always a complex process. Functional system operating requirements are paramount, closely followed by the desire to locate any new reservoir as far away as possible from nearby residences. Costs, both construction and on-going operating costs, are also very important as these will be factored into the rate base and charged to all users of the system. The guiding principle Carefree follows is to provide the greatest benefits to the most residents while causing the least impositions to the fewest residents, and at the lowest cost.

Professional engineers evaluated 32 site locations in Carefree against key criteria, and singled out the site in the Boulders utility easement as the only one meeting all of the established criteria. Reports from people not involved in this evaluation claiming that there were other potentially “better” sites than the identified site in the Boulders property – and that some of these other sites were free, are unfounded and untrue. Further supporting the usage of this site was that the Carefree Water Company had an existing utility easement and existing water infrastructure at this specific location.

Working cooperatively with the previous Boulders HOA Directors, the Carefree Water Company agreed to locate the reservoir as far away from existing residences as possible, to bury the reservoir underground and landscape over and around it. In essence, maintain the open desert appearance from any nearby residence.

The Carefree Water Company and the Town are now faced with the criticism from some of the residents of the Boulders that the Town is not representing them if the Water Company did not abandon the reasoned plans of the professional engineers and place the reservoir in another location. We should all realize that no decision in a democracy is 100 – 0. Where were these Boulders residents when the hundreds of residents from south and west Carefree came forward in person and/or in letters during the last four years? Further, the primary issue in the last two Carefree elections was about the integration of all of Carefree’s residents into the Carefree Water Company system, and the candidates in support of this action won overwhelmingly, and the others lost. This is what a community’s elected leaders promised to do and what is being delivered – it is responsive government.

We have requested the professional engineers a number of times now to revisit and re-examine their recommended site for the reservoir. We asked them if there was any other site which could meet the established criteria. Their answer kept coming back the same. No. To move the site elsewhere would decrease the effectiveness and functionality of the entire Carefree Water system and increase costs. And, any increased costs would necessarily need to be funded by all Carefree users of this system, including the 85%+ that don’t live in the Boulders.

Whether it is my role on Council or the Water Company, my fiduciary duty and that of all of the other elected and appointed officials, is to the broader good of the Carefree community. The proposed plans to build a buried fresh water reservoir in an existing utility easement adjacent to Tom Darlington is the best site from a functional perspective, most financially feasible which mitigates future impacts to water rates and would cause the least disruption to the neighborhood.

Les Peterson
Carefree Mayor