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Minutes of the Work Session held January 11, 2010 at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers.



Mayor Lopez-Rogers and Council Members                          Jim McDonald, Vice Mayor

                                                                                                Jim Buster

                                                                                                Stephanie Karlin

                                                                                                Frank Scott

                                                                                                Charles Vierhout

                                                                                                Ken Weise


Charlie McClendon, City Manager

Andrew McGuire, City Attorney

Wayne Janis, Water Resources Director

Carmen Martinez, City Clerk







City Council received a summary of the preliminary results from the new Water Master Plan.


Mr. McClendon noted that the City of Avondale has been working with consultant Malcolm Pirnie on the Water Resources Master Plan (WRMP).  Mr. Janis reported that Avondale has good water resources into the near future.  The WRMP has been substantially developed, and should be complete by the middle of April.  The project objectives are to:


·         Update the previous master plan.

·         Analyze water demands and compare them to supply.

·         Determine whether to choose between wells, a surface water treatment plant, or a combination of both.

·         Develop an operations budget, and capital budgets for replacement and growth for the next ten years.


Land use is being driven by the WRMP among other plans.  Avondale is divided into on-project and off-project areas.  On-project areas are entitled to water from the Salt River Project (SRP), while off-project areas are not.  On-project areas are generally east of the Agua Fria River.  The SRP water often contains substantial amounts of Central Arizona Project (CAP) water, or ground water.  Avondale has more supply than demand for both the on-project and off-project areas.  This would allow for supplies with excess to make up for those that experience shortages.  Regardless of what happens with growth, or water rights, Avondale is largely assured that its water supplies will be sufficient through build out.


Mr. Janis examined water supply alternatives.  The wells tend to be located east of Dysart Road, and west of the river.  More wells could be built around the recharge facility on McDowell Road and the areas north of Buckeye Road.  In areas south of Buckeye Road, the dissolved solids are so high that it would not be practical to use that water.  A membrane treatment plant would cost too much, and would not get rid of the brine.  A surface water treatment plant is an alternative for the future, but is not being recommended as the first supply. 


The least expensive option is to develop wells, and they will be an integral part of the City's future supply.  Avondale benefits from its ability to recharge reclaimed water.  The reclamation center recharges the aquifer using water with low total dissolved solids.  Treatment costs for this type of water are low.  Recharge water is considered direct use water is a highly valued component in the 100 year assured water supply, but it is uncertain whether DWR will continue to consider recharge water as direct use water.  Avondale is in good shape with respect to legal water rights as well as wet water since Avondale is located downhill on the aquifer, and would be among the last locales to run out of water.


Wells are cost effective to develop.  It costs about $2 million to drill a well site and equip it, and they can produce 1,200 gallons a minute.  On the other hand, it would cost between $80 million and $100 million for the first 7 million gallons of water produced by a treatment plant.  No special expertise is needed for wells.  They are resistant to water shortages, and can be monitored for changes in quality and volume.  Hydrologists estimate that even if Avondale pumps heavily, the aquifer would not drop more than nine feet in 50 years.  Potential difficulties associated with wells include finding new sites, and having to treat for arsenic and nitrates.  Staff is looking at the possibility of rehabilitating and reengineering those wells that have shown to have arsenic and nitrates to produce a cleaner water supply even if volume decreases slightly. 


A water treatment plant would have the advantage of creating a large supply in one place.  Operations costs can be lower.  It would not be as exposed to various neighborhoods.  Avondale would benefit from being able to recharge more water than currently permitted since there would be more room for recharge if the water is recovered with wells and this would further separate Avondale?s water from the Goodyear contamination plume.  He added that at this time the models indicate there is no risk that the contamination from the Goodyear contamination plume will reach Avondale.  The disadvantages of a plant include the large capital outlay, possible changes in canal water, disinfectant bi-products, and the lengthy process required to bring a plant online.


Mr. Janis said Staff recommends that Avondale continue to develop wells, focusing on the areas that would produce the best quality water without requiring treatment.  Wells can be developed on an as-needed basis to match growth.  It takes about two years to bring a well online.  The next steps are to determine operating costs, capital replacement, and capital growth needs in order to come up with a budget.  City Council could also decide to set aside land for a future water treatment plant as a backup plan. 


Council Member Buster inquired about the arsenic levels in the wells around the city, and what is being done to meet Federal standards.  Mr. Janis responded most of them are in the teens except for one that has arsenic levels in the forties and was taken off line.  Wells 6 and 7 are being treated to reduce levels to less than eight parts per million.  Council Member Buster inquired about the cost of that effort.  Mr. Janis responded that he would return with an accurate figure.  Mr. Janis clarified that the City's remaining wells all meet Federal arsenic standards.  Council Member Buster queried what would occur should another well come on line that exceeded Federal arsenic standards. 


Council Member Buster inquired about the advantage that a surface water treatment plant would provide in achieving future assured water supply designations.  Mr. Janis explained that the City has to demonstrate that it has enough wet water and legal water to supply the customers in its service area for the next 100 years.  The Department of Water Resources may not consider water that is recharged away from the community as being as readily available as water that is recharged within the community.  If Avondale cannot increase its recharge capability at the McDowell Road basins, it may have to reevaluate a surface water treatment plant in order to assure a 100-year supply.


David Fitzhugh, Assistant City Manager clarified that there are two wells in the northern part of the city that currently exceed Federal arsenic standards; the water is being sent through the water treatment facility to reduce levels.  Mr. Janis added that the water can be blended, sent through the existing treatment facility, or the well could be redesigned to screen out the parts of the aquifer that are contributing excess arsenic. 


Council Member Karlin noted that the western U.S. has naturally occurring levels of arsenic, and Federal legislators should be aware of this so as not to penalize these communities.  She inquired how much water Avondale would have at build out.  Mr. Janis responded that the City at that point would require a well capacity of about 38 million gallons.  If Avondale continues to recharge the water that it uses, and neighbors do not affect the aquifer, there would be no depletion, and the future would be very sustainable.  Council Member Karlin said Avondale might have to plan for a water treatment plant and inquired whether Avondale has considered setting aside land for this purpose.  Mr. Janis responded that there is room available to build a water treatment plant adjacent to the recharge basins.  The area around 107th Avenue and Roosevelt Street would also make a good location, if land could be reserved there. 


Council Member Karlin proposed designating land for that purpose, even if it were not purchased at this time.  Mr. McClendon said if the General Plan designated this land for use for public facilities, it would preclude other uses.  He prefers designating it under a different category so as not to tie it up.  Mr. Janis noted that Scottsdale successfully located a water treatment facility under a City park.  There is no need to act now on a plant.  This simply exists as an option for future consideration.


In response to an inquiry from Council Member Weise, Mr. Janis said the arsenic in wells 6 and 7 is naturally occurring.  Treatment has been a cost effective solution.  Council Member Weise inquired about the possibility that the plume from Goodyear could migrate towards Avondale's wells.  Mr. Janis responded that the consultants indicate that the groundwater plume is not expected to be a problem.  The recharge basins will tend to push away any bad water from getting near Avondale's best wells.  Council Member Weise queried about how decisions made by the Department of Water Resources could affect Avondale.  Mr. Janis said the worst-case scenario sees the City having to build a water treatment plant and using water there instead of recharging the aquifer.


Council Member Scott asked about the City's best wells.  Mr. Janis said the best water comes from well 18 and those around it. 


Mayor Lopez-Rogers inquired how Avondale is affected by the Liberty Water Company not recharging water in Litchfield Park.  Mr. Janis said he suspects it would not make a big difference, and no rapid drops have been noticed.  Vice Mayor McDonald inquired about the success of Crystal Gardens experiment in cleaning up and recharging water.  Mr. Janis responded that it successfully takes nitrates out of the water.  It should result in less equipment being required should a water treatment plant ever be built nearby.  In response to a further inquiry from Vice Mayor McDonald, Mr. Janis said the City is looking into the history of the limitations for recharging groundwater and whether anything could be done to increase the capacity to recharge more.




        With no further business before the Council, Council Member Weise moved to adjourn the work session.  Council Member Scott seconded the motion.  The motion carried unanimously.


Meeting adjourned at 6:43 p.m.