Phoenix Water Services Efficiencies Save $20 Million
Phoenix Water Treatment Goes Solar
No Increases in Water & Sewer Rates Proposed for 2013-14 Fiscal Year
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Presents Water Services' Tres Rios Project with Award
Water Services Receives Exceptional Training Award
Val Vista Water Treatment Plant Project Receives Award
Tres Rios Restoration Project Receives Valley Forward Crescordia Award
Phoenix Water Services Staff Generates More Than $3 Million in Cost Avoidance
Interactive Website Launched for Stormwater Management Program
City Wastewater Treatment Plants Receive National Awards
Phoenix Water Services' Tres Rios Project Up for Valley Forward Award
City Receives Green Infrastructure Grant for Stormwater Management
$30 Million Gain to Water Fund from Sale of City-Owned Land
No Rise in Typical Water & Sewer Bill
Phoenix’s Tap Water Quality Again Meets Requirements
Water Services Employees Garner Numerous Industry Awards
Efficiency Study and Advisory Panel Verify Water Services’ Effectiveness
Water Services Employee Excellence Honored
Phoenix’s New Water Resources Plan Available
Water Services Staff Saves Downed Helicopter Victims
$200 Million Invested to Meet Unfunded Water Quality Regulations
More than $20 million has been saved by the City of Phoenix Water Services Department following implementation of a consultant’s recommendations and staff ideas. The savings are the primary reasons that Phoenix’s water and sewer rates will not increase in 2013. Water Services’ operations budget for next fiscal year is projected to be $11 million less than this year’s budget.
Water Services staff have accomplished most of the consultant’s task list as confirmed by a Citizens Advisory Panel, formed to review the study. “In this city we are committed to innovation and efficiency and we can see it at work right here in our Water Services Department,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “I’m also committed to preparing our city for a strong future through sustainability in as many city services as possible, and I’m proud to see our water systems implementing that through conservation and solar programs.”
Actions leading to the savings include: reduced chemical costs, eliminating positions, energy conservation measures, reduced debt service from the sale of the city’s McMullen Valley water farm property, sewer operating efficiencies, and installation of a 7.5 megawatt solar panel system at the Lake Pleasant Water Treatment Plant.
“We take our tap water and sewer systems for granted because there are so few service interruptions and we don’t see the massive infrastructure needed to serve our customers,” said Councilwoman Thelda Williams, chairwoman of the city’s Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. “12,000 miles of water and sewer lines, treatment plants, booster stations, fire hydrants, reservoirs and especially the people that make it all work keep us safe and comfortable 24/7.”
“Phoenix Water Services has done an excellent job of lowering costs while enhancing services,” said City Manager David Cavazos. “The fact that we have high-quality tap water that meets or surpasses Environmental Protection Agency requirements, a stable supply, and the fifth-lowest water and sewer bill of the nation’s 20 largest cities – in the desert – is amazing.”
The City of Phoenix’s Water Services Department is more than 100 years old and treats and distributes tap water to 1.5 million customers over approximately 540 square miles. Water Services also manages Phoenix’s sewer system, and handles wastewater treatment operations for 2.5 million residents in five Valley cities. Water Services infrastructure includes 7,000 miles of water lines, 5,000 miles of sewer lines, seven treatment plants, 50,000 fire hydrants and 90,000 manholes. Phoenix’s water and sewer rates are among the lowest of comparable-sized cities nationwide. Phoenix’s tap water supply is in very good shape due to decades of planning and multiple water sources. Phoenix performs more than five million tests and measurements each year to meet or surpass stringent water quality regulations. The city reuses nearly all of its wastewater on crops, wetlands and energy production.
The city of Phoenix’s Lake Pleasant Water Treatment Plant has started working directly with the sun to help produce the energy needed to operate the plant, which produces 15 billion gallons of tap water each year. A 7.5-megawatt high efficiency solar power system, which was designed and built by SunPower Corp., is the largest such installation on city property. It is expected to generate 70 percent of the plant’s electrical power needs. A total of 22,936 solar panels are being used to save approximately 15 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) each year, resulting in savings of approximately $4.2 million over the next 20 years as compared to conventional electricity.
According to estimates provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the system is expected to offset the production of more than 9,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is equivalent to removing almost 35,800 cars from Arizona’s roads over the next 20 years.
The Lake Pleasant Water Treatment Plant project is the latest in a series of solar initiatives utilized at various city locations to increase the city’s commitment to sustainable energy development. A SunPower solar system also generates 5.4-megawattts of power at Sky Harbor, and 100-kilowatt systems are in place at the Phoenix Convention Center and the Burton Barr Central Library, both with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certified facilities. City solar projects are currently generating 13 megawatts of electricity through solar energy, or enough to power about 2,600 homes annually.
On October 13, 2012, the Phoenix City Council Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee heard a proposal for no increases to water and sewer rates for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
The proposal for no increases will go to the full City Council for review. Water Services’ five-year capital improvement program maintains funding for rehabilitation and replacement, required capacity for future growth, the ability to meet or exceed all federal water quality standards, and maintaining Phoenix’s critical AAA bond rating.
The proposal gives Phoenix residents the fifth-lowest water and sewer bill of the nation’s 20 largest cities, maintaining $58.46 per month for single family residences. The proposal was made possible because of additional, significant savings and efficiencies within the city’s Water Services Department stemming from employee and management ideas, and an efficiency study that was reviewed by a citizen’s advisory panel. Some of those savings include: $8 million in reduced chemical costs, $2.4 million from the elimination of an additional 33 positions, $800,000 in energy conservation measures, $3.2 million in reduced debt service from the sale of the city’s McMullen Valley property, $1 million in sewer operating efficiencies, $3 million in reduced granular activated carbon costs, and revenue increases due to the improved economy.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) presented the Chief of Engineers Award of Excellence for Environmental Design to the City of Phoenix and project partners for work performed on the Tres Rios Environmental Restoration Project. The Chief of Engineers Award of Excellence recognizes the most innovative projects accomplished by USACE teammates and the private sector design and construction community around the world.
Mayor Greg Stanton presented the Water Services Department the Exceptional Training Award for infusing American Disabilities Act Title II requirements into customer services training. Over 400 employees received this training ensuring that the city provides accommodations for customers and treats all customers with respect. The training created an important connection between ADA requirements and job-related knowledge.
ENR-Southwest, an association of design and construction professionals, has announced that the city of Phoenix's Val Vista Water Treatment Plant project for granulated activated carbon (GAC) treatment has won its Best Civil Project of 2012. The $80M project designed by Black & Veatch and built by Sundt Construction was completed over a 27 month period and will play a major role in providing even higher-quality drinking water to Phoenix tap water customers.
The Tres Rios Environmental Restoration Project, Phase III, was awarded the Valley Forward Environmental Excellence Crescordia Award under the category of Site Development and Landscape: Public Sector. The coveted Crescordia Award (a Greek term that means “To Grow in Harmony”) honors exceptional physical, technical and social development of our metropolitan area. Tres Rios represents a collaboration of agencies to protect county residents and property from flooding, enhance the environment and improve the quality of life for area residents.
Phase III of the Tres Rios program updated and reconfigured drainage systems and removed salt cedar in a 2.5-mile-long, 650-acre stretch of open water and wetland marshes at the confluence of the Gila, Salt and Agua Fria Rivers. The project has created 44 acres of new open water reaches along with 10 acres of marsh habitat and 46 acres of riparian habitat. Kiewit Corporation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the City of Phoenix and the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) worked to bring the river channels back to their original state by providing more open water. This was done by moving over 550,000 cubic yards of earth, which was mostly below the existing groundwater. Now able to accommodate a greater volume of water, the area provides improved flood control as well as habitat for the bald eagle and endangered southwestern willow flycatcher and Yuma clapper rail.
In addition to rehabilitating the riparian ecosystem, Tres Rios Phase III contributed to the long-term success of this region. Post-construction, the project will spend six years monitoring and assisting the ecosystem. The goal is to establish the new vegetation, ensuring its continued growth. The project has also developed a long-term adaptive management plan that will enable the ecosystem to gradually become self-sufficient. The project will continue the eradication of the invasive tamarisk (salt cedar) species throughout this six-year period.
Completed in May 2012, the project was revegetated with 18,000 new aquatic plants, 6,000 container plants and 1,700 new pole plantings harvested from the cottonwood and willows that were saved during the construction of the project. The meandering waterways, coves and inlets provide ample opportunities for fishing and recreation. Restoration of the 115th Avenue roadway with concrete treated base course has made it possible for AGFD to sponsor events. In March 2012 the Tres Rios Nature and Earth Festival was held at Estrella Mountain Regional Park. The festival is an annual outdoor family event highlighting the rich diversity of wildlife, habitat, history and culture of the Gila River corridor. The event will be returning in 2013 to the old 115th Avenue which was restored by the project team.
Seven city of Phoenix Water Services Department employees recently found a way to avoid spending $3,381,460 by spending only $15,000. A consultant’s report estimated the cost of an improvement needed to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Stage 2 Disinfection Byproduct Rule at more than $3 million, but city staff created, tested and succeeded in finding a way to alter water flow through reservoirs to meet the stringent regulatory requirements and enhance water quality. The Water Services employees involved in this effort include Andrew Avila, Olie Carvajal, Darlene Helm, Bertin Morales, Lorenzo Ortega, Erin Pysel, and Andy Terrey. Each of the seven Water Services employees will receive $2,381 as part of Phoenix’s Employee Suggestion Program. The award is an example of the success of Phoenix’s nearly 40 year-old Employee Suggestion Program, which rewards employees for submitting innovative and creative ideas that promote improvements to city operations and services. During the past four fiscal years, adopted suggestions submitted by city employees have saved the city more than $9.7 million dollars.
The City of Phoenix Water Services Department recently launched an interactive Stormwater website that serves as an educational tool for the three major groups that impact stormwater in the Phoenix area – Businesses, Residents, and those in the Construction field. Visit http://phoenix.gov/waterservices/esd/stormwater/interactive/index.html to learn more.
The City of Phoenix Water Services Department has received Gold and Silver Peak Performance Awards from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) for its two wastewater treatment plants. This is the 24th time since 1986 that ...the 91st Avenue plant has received an award, and the 21st time the 23rd Avenue plant has received an award from the national agency. The City of Phoenix strives to meet and exceed all environmental management requirements for these facilities in a cost effective manner on behalf of our residents. NACWA is a national group with about 280 water utility members, and is a nationally recognized leader in environmental policy and technical resource on water quality protection issues.
Phase III of the Phoenix Water Services’ Tres Rios Environmental Habitat Restoration project has been selected as a finalist for Valley Forward’s 32nd Annual Environmental Excellence Awards.
Phoenix has been awarded a $35,000 technical assistance grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to advance the use of green infrastructure techniques in municipal stormwater management. Green infrastructure uses vegetation and soil to manage rainwater where it falls, keeping polluted stormwater from entering sewer systems and our rivers and washes. Funding will be used to evaluate methods to encourage green infrastructure in city codes, ordinances, and practices, focusing on techniques and challenges unique to the arid southwest.
“Green infrastructure practices protect water quality and provide community benefits including job creation and neighborhood revitalization,” Mayor Greg Stanton said. The project is the collaborative effort of several city departments – the Office of Environmental Programs, Water Services, Parks and Recreation, and Planning and Development. The Arizona State University Sustainable Cities Network and the Watershed Management Group are also part of the project team.
Communities are increasingly using green infrastructure to supplement or substitute for more traditional infrastructure investments such as pipes, filters and ponds. Effective green infrastructure tools and techniques include green roofs, permeable materials, alternative designs for streets and buildings, trees, rain gardens and rain harvesting systems. Phoenix is one of 17 communities that were chosen in a nationwide competition to receive technical assistance directly from an EPA contractor. For more information, visit water.epa.gov/infrastructure/greeninfrastructure/ or call 602-256-5669.
City of Phoenix owned land in the McMullen Valley area of La Paz County, originally purchased in 1986 for harvesting groundwater to supplement Phoenix’s water supply, was sold to International Farming Corporation LLC/Arizona Farming LLC (IFC) for $30 million. The money acquired from the sale will be first used to pay off remaining land debt and the net proceeds will be deposited into the city’s Water Fund to help further stabilize future customer rate adjustments. Since 1986, Phoenix has augmented its multiple water supplies with additional surface water resources making the cost for infrastructure to import the water from McMullen Valley to Phoenix no longer economically viable. Phoenix advertised the approximately 12,900-acre property, including assignment of the existing State Land lease of 1,040 acres, by a sealed bid solicitation in November 2011. The high bidder, IFC, is an investment firm that specializes in agricultural properties. IFC and its affiliates were founded in 1871 and have more than 139 years of continuous agricultural experience.
Effective July 1, 2012, Phoenix raised the water rate by 4.5 percent and decreased the sewer rate by 7.5 percent. The typical Phoenix single family residence should see no increase in their monthly water and sewer charges. The average monthly water and sewer bill will remain among the lowest in the country at $58.46 for a single family residence. For more information, click on the Water & Sewer Rates box.
Tap water delivered to Phoenix customers again met or surpassed all federal and state drinking water standards, as detailed in the city’s new annual Water Quality Report. The report gives consumers information on water sources; the treatment process; taste, odor and hardness; and testing for substances contained in multiple source waters; most of which start as snow then travel to rivers and canals before being cleaned and disinfected at Phoenix’s water treatment plants. Phoenix’s Water Services Department conducts more than five milion tests and measurements in the city’s treatment and distribution systems each year, and uses state of the art equipment and laboratories to test for more than 100 substances. The city also submits hundreds of reports each year to the U.S, Environmental Protection Agency, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and the Maricopa County Environmental Services Department. Read the most recent water quality report.
The City of Phoenix Water Services Department’s employees and projects recently won several awards. Val Vista Water Treatment Control Specialist Charlotte Jones won the American Water Works Association's George W. Fuller Award for distinguished service to AWWA. Also, the AZ Water Association recently honored numerous Phoenix employees and projects, including: Deputy Water Services Director Aimee Conroy, Engineer of the Year; Operations and Maintenance Supervisor Mark Henslee, Operations Supervisor of the Year Water Treatment Plant Large System; the Water Infrastructure Improvements Project at 24th Street and Camelback Road, Water System Project of the Year; and the Val Vista Water Treatment Plant’s Granular Activated Carbon Implementaton Project, Water Treatment Project of the Year. Additionally, safety commendations were awarded to members of Phoenix’s Wastewater Collection Bluestake Section, the Wastewater Collection TV Section, the Wastewater Collection Lift Station Section and Building Maintenance for their accident and injury avoidance accomplishments.
An independent Innovation & Efficiency Study performed by Black & Veatch and reviewed the citizen-city Water Advisory Panel and two City Council subcommittees identified management excellence, as well as possible savings 10 million related to energy management, closing of a water-treatment plant, debt refinancing and other innovations and efficiencies in Phoenix’s Water Services Department. Many of the recommendations already are being implemented on top of tens of millions of dollars already saved or avoided by Water Services staff in the past few years. The study concluded that the department is doing an excellent job maintaining a quality tap water and sewer system. Areas of excellence include: competent staff, water quality, system reliability and resource management, among others. Recent city staff innovations have led to the city retaining its critical AAA bond rating; maintaining aging, critical infrastructure; funding unfunded federal requirements; and lowering or avoiding previously anticipated rate increases.
- Final Report from Water Services Advisory Panel about Water Services Efficiency Study
- Black & Veatch Final Efficiency Study Report
- City Council Report about Innovation and Efficiency Study
- PowerPoint Presentation: Water Services Department Efficiency Study and Savings
Numerous Phoenix Employee Excellence Awards were given to city employees. Andy Terrey was the recipient of an individual award for improving water quality, and the following staff received a team award for the recent 24th Street and Camelback Road project: Denise Olson, Esmerelda P. Saldana, Roza Ferdowsmakan, Stephen Wetherell, Manny Bahraini, Randy Weaver, Syd Anderson, Andrew Avila, Aimee Conroy, Andrew Fyrga, Manuel Lecero, Bertin Morales, Carlos Padilla, Can Xiao, Brandy Kelso, Darlene Helm and Brad Walldorf.
Smart planning keeps Phoenix's tap water supply in great shape by examining factors such as demand, supply, climate, technology, regulations, infrastructure and research. Click on Water Resources and Conservation to find Phoenix's new Water Resources Plan. View the 2011 Water Resources Plan.
Water Services employees Alan Cottrell and Ron Ponce were on a routine call on 19th Street and Roma Avenue when a helicopter crashed into two houses. The men risked their own lives to pull the pilot and a passenger out of the mangled wreckage. Honors from the Mayor, City Council and City Manager, as well as major media coverage followed the events.
Phoenix Water Services has invested about $200 million in capital funds for water quality improvements in order to meet new, unfunded U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations designed to minimize disinfection byproducts (DBPs). DBPs form when chlorine added to our tap water for disinfection purposes reacts with naturally occurring organic materials in our source waters. Phoenix implemented changes prior to the new rule’s start date of April, 2012, and is expecting to meet new sampling requirements when the first year of monitoring is complete in May of 2013. Phoenix Water Services staff performs more than five million tests and measurements each year to keep your tap water safe. Protecting public health and safety with reliable, reasonably priced water and sewer services is our mission.