Facts on Carefree Water Transition

Recently, there have been several letters to the editor which contain numerous inaccurate statements in reference to the Carefree Water Consolidation project.  One example is a recent letter to the editor titled “Carefree water transition”. In this letter the author inaccurately states that the water consolidation project will only benefit a few hundred residents. The facts are that approximately 1/3 of Carefree’s population, more than 1,000 residents, are impacted by a current lack of representation over their water resources. This number does not include the existing and future businesses that provide revenue which fund Town provided services such as public safety.  Certainly, ensuring representation over water resources during a generational drought and preserving the Town’s financial interest are critical quality of life issues facing our community.

The author of this letter to the editor goes on to compare a sewer treatment facility to a fresh water storage reservoir and summarizes his observations with the statement that “no one wants to live yards away from an industrial utility operation” as if they were one of the same.  Obviously, a sewer plant with above ground apparatus containing grinding pumps and emitting noxious odors located 85 feet from the nearest residence (which was the case in the decommissioned Boulders sewer plant) is a lot different than a buried reservoir located 160 feet from the nearest residence containing clean drinking water that feeds the water faucets in your homes that you drink and bath within. In fact, there are numerous existing reservoirs adjacent to residential homes in Carefree, Cave Creek, Scottsdale and Phoenix. Unlike many of these, however, the water reservoir planned for Carefree will be buried and landscaped with natural vegetation to further screen the area and maintaining a sense of openness. What is being proposed is nothing like a sewer treatment facility nor an industrial use the author would like you to believe.  Given the authors opinion that they would consider a buried fresh water reservoir to be industrial, certainly the nearby recently installed septic system in Boulders open space property and the lakes holding undrinkable grey water in the Boulders should also be considered industrial. It is interesting to note, however, that there are many homes in the Boulders very near these facilities.

Furthermore, the author of this letter to the editor also accuses the Town of not working in a collaborative spirit with Boulders residents. However, the public record clearly shows once again this statement is far from the truth. The Town began to meet with the Boulders residents in November, 2019.  At that time, the Town made a presentation and held a question-answer meeting which lasted over three hours. In this well attended meeting of the Boulders community, the water consolidation project, the proposed need for an addition fresh water reservoir and the detailed site selection process and conceptual design of the water reservoir proposed in the Boulders were discussed in detail. This meeting was followed up by additional meetings/discussions with Boulders residents.  As a result of these collective discussions the Town further refined the design of the buried fresh water reservoir and held an open house to review these updated plans with interested Boulder residents. Subsequent to these meetings, however, the current Boulders HOA Board decided to take an adversarial approach and terminated all such collaborative efforts while other Boulders residents threaten litigation to delay the project. Due to these threats and the extensive process (32 sites were evaluated) to locate the most appropriate site, the Town was forced to proceed on a solo basis in a process that provided the greatest benefit for the community at the least costs while ensuring the timely transition of water service and representation to 1/3 of the Carefree community.

The final point the author of this letter to the editor addresses is related to Town Communications. Over the past year, Carefree has been working on a new website, newsletter and system to broadcast Town meetings. In addition, the Town is expanding its digital presence in a world less dependent on conventional paper forms of communication and working closely with publications serving Carefree residents. Indeed, digital media provides opportunities to fluidly communicate regardless of your location that antiquated, static paper forms do not afford.
Bottom line, I have volunteered to serve my community because I simply wanted to help and address concerns of my fellow neighbors and residents. I have learned through this volunteering that it is a thankless job and not everyone will take the time to uncover the pertinent facts required to address complex problems, and that not everyone will agree with a resolution or an answer based upon facts and doing what is best for the Carefree community. However, I can emphatically state that I and each Council member do their best to learn the facts pertaining to each issue, the options available and ultimately make informed decisions that represent the broader interest of our beautiful community. Indeed, through this process there are those that will disagree with a decision, however, democracy is not characterized by 100% agreement but by preserving a respectful and knowledgeable civil dialogue and developing solutions which benefit the greatest number of residents while causing the minimal detriment to the fewest number of residents. Such is the case with the water storage reservoir planned to be located in one of the utility easements on the edge of the Boulders.

If you are interested in considering and learning about the facts supporting Carefree’s position on the water consolidation project, please visit Carefree.org in your web browser and click on the “Water Project Update” icon in the upper left corner for a comprehensive presentation of the facts.

Les Peterson
Carefree Mayor