Water District vs Water Company: Black Canyon City has both a Water Improvement District (BCCWID) that serves around 800 customers and a water company, Coldwater Canyon (CCWC), that serves around 400 customers. The first is a cooperative where each of the property owners who take water have ownership rights. New connections are assessed a connection fee of several thousand dollars to join the District. If a property owner choses not to do so, they satisfy their own water needs with a private well. Existing District water accounts are assessed Capital Improvement costs monthly to maintain the system. Over time these payments increase owner/users' investment in their system. The District employs a management company, currently Randy and Sarah Hrabina, to manage their water delivery investment. The management company reports to an elected Board that sets rates, policies, and ordinances. Complaints are intially handled by the management team using the Board's guidelines but unsatisfied owners and users can bring issues before the Board at any monthly meeting. The CCWC situation is totally different. Water users are being served by a water company, currently owned by Roger Wagner. They have NO ownership rights and have NO investment in the Company. Their water delivery rates have to be approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission. Customer issues are handled by CCWC staff and if needed, the Arizona Corporation Commission. The BCCWID has been approached by Mr. Wagner to consider purchasing CCWC and possibly merging the two water services. Unfortunately merging a cooperatively owned water delivery system and a private system is nearly impossible without significant pain to the parties involved. Purchasing the CCWC has absolutely no benefit to the BCCWID owners/users and potentially much cost. The CCWC customers have no property interest in their water system and have accumulated no money for future Capital Improvements. This means a BCCWID purchase of CCWC followed by merger would result in a substantial transfer of wealth from the District owners to the customers served by CCWC (caused by giving all the CCWC users equal ownership rights at absolutely no cost). For a merger to occur the BCCWID Board believes the current users of Coldwater Canyon water would have to form a cooperative and buy Mr. Wagner's system as well as establish a Capital Improvement account of a couple hundred thousand dollars. At that time the two systems would be equivalent and could be merged with no costs to BCCWID users. Unfortunately this means the Coldwater Canyon property owners who wished to continue receiving water would have to come up with a couple of thousand dollars each to establish the necessary system parity and purchase Mr. Wagner's property.
Fire Insurance Rating in a Rural Area: Our water system works fine for its primary purpose, which has always been the delivery of potable water to our Owner/Users. There are many components for a town or community to receive the best fire insurance rating (ISO), with only one being related to water flow capability from fire hydrants. The BCCWID is only a portion of the larger Black Canyon City Fire District and to achieve this best ISO rating, hydrants with a capability of delivering 3000+ gpm would be needed throughout the Fire District. There are no hydrants outside the BCCWID and the hydrants within the District are not capable of this type of volume. Our system pumps water at slightly over 400 gpm. To clarify our water delivery capabilities for fire fighting to the public, the Board added the following to our annual Consumer Confidence Report, at the suggestion of our insurer.
"As you may be aware, throughout most neighborhoods there are fire hydrants and/or standpipes. Many of these were installed during property development at the cost of the developer. Although they are available to supply the Fire Department for fighting fires, they cannot supply the water volume required for the best insurance (ISO) ratings. This is common in rural areas and Black Canyon City is no exception. It is estimated the cost to improve the system to provide the volume needed would be in the multi-million(s) and is not currently viewed as the District's responsibility. We will, however, strive to continue to supply domestic water at reasonable water rates. If you have any questions about your (homeowners) insurance rating, please contact your insurance agent for more details."
Well Arsenic Levels: As a result of the EPA's ongoing efforts to provide better quality water to the public, arsenic filtration systems were mandated by the Federal Government to be in place before January 23, 2006. The BCCWID units were purchased under contract from AdEdge Technologies, Inc. Installation was completed and approved by ADEQ well before the deadline. In addition to better quality water, the best news is, with sound financial planning, we were able to do this without going into debt or raising rates. The media used to filter the water has a useful life of approximately 20 months and will need to be replaced periodically. To plan for this the Board has created a "Sinking Fund" so the money will be in reserve and available when needed. It represents 45% of the Capital Budget.
Conservation During Continuing Drought: We seem to be in an ongoing period of drought, so we encourage our Owner/Users to voluntarily conserve wherever possible. On occasion we have Owner/Users call to report possible leaks and we appreciate the calls. Some are leaks and others are not. If you ever see standing or running water along the road, please call us so we can check it out. At home, do periodic checks for leaks; check toilets. Put food coloring in the tank and let stand without flushing; if after a period of time color appears in the bowl, your flapper or ballcock needs repair or replacement. This is the most common type of water waste and often goes without notice. This leak repair could save you several thousands of gallons of water per month! Timed drip irrigation systems are great, but also need periodic checkups. If you water by hose, never water plants or trees unattended.
Water Pressures: The Water District is required by ADEQ to provide a minimum of 20-pounds pressure at your meter. The lowest pressure we have tested is 27-pounds and there are other Owner/Users with pressure of 90-pounds or more! Some homeowners with high pressure may have to install pressure reducing valves at their own expense. Likewise, customers with lower pressure who desire higher pressure, although more than the minimum pressure has been provided, may have to install private boosters. The lower pressure areas are most typically homes located on higher hillsides.
Water Hardness: One of the most commonly asked questions is - How hard is our water? Water throughout Arizona is hard and ours is no exception. The hardness level varies, but registers at 280 mgl, which is high on the charts and is why some people install water softeners.
Incorporation of Black Canyon City: If our community were to incorporate at some future date, it is likely both the private water company serving the northeastern portion of Black Canyon City and the BCCWID would be quickly subjected to eminent domain proceedings. A newly incorporated municipality would undoubtedly want to supply the basic services of police, fire, and water delivery. These services would be funded by some combination of water revenues, property taxation, and bond issues. The ownership rights of in-district property owners would have to be purchased by the newly incorporated municipality as part of any condemnation proceedings (equivalent sized water companies have sold for well over a million dollars in this area of Arizona). If such an action were to occur in the future, each Board Member's fiduciary responsibility would be to act solely to insure protection of the Owners' interests. Since the new municipality would probably wish to purchase at the lowest possible price and the Board would of course be required to obtain the highest possible price for their Owner/Users, a conflict of interest might make it difficult, if not impossible, for Board Members to be pro-incorporation.