City council revises water hauler agreement

After listening to input from county residents, Williams City Council revised its water hauler agreement at last Thursday’s regular meeting.

The $75 non-refundable setup fee for county residents still stands. Any water purchased will be in addition to this fee.

And new county residents, who have moved to the area after June 13, are, for now, still not eligible to buy a debit card to use the city’s automated water dispensing system.

However, council asked that the following sentence be added to allow new residents to use the system once Williams water crisis is over:

“This moratorium (for new county residents) will be reviewed for change as the city’s water resources improve,” the agreement states.

In the past two weeks, councilmembers have also assured current water haulers they will not be cut off if the city runs out of water and has to start hauling water in from an outside source.

City reservoirs are now at 9 percent capacity. Water restrictions are in effect within Williams city limits.

County residents voiced concerns over the automated system at a July 7 Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce board meeting at Days Inn. Another meeting was called at Williams/Elementary Middle School July 24 with about 130 people attending. County concerns were again voiced at Thursday’s city council meeting.

City hall has had numerous calls regarding the new debit card system. The Williams-Grand Canyon News has had several letters on this topic, including one in today’s edition (See page 4A.)

City reservoirs are nearly empty, and water restrictions are in effect within Williams city limits.

“Right now we have 9 percent of our reservoirs left, which should carry us into November and December,” said Ken Edes, Williams mayor, at the July 24 meeting. “The Dogtown Well should be enough to carry us through the winter.’’

Edes also pointed out the city will not approve new construction within city limits during the current water crisis.

Joe Duffy, assistant city manager and finance director, said the city is currently selling about 20 debit cards per day to county residents. Duffy also said money from the debit card setup fee would either be used to pay for the $24,000 automated system or make improvements at the waterstand.

“Let’s look at the big picture,” Duffy said. “The city has spent $4 million looking for water and now has a well at Dogtown producing around 220 gallons per minute.

“Williams has the second highest debt per capita behind Sedona. We can’t borrow any more money. Ideally we need $10 million in the bank for water exploration.”

Matt Ryan, District 3 Coconino County supervisor which includes Williams and surrounding areas, explained that county residents can form a water improvement district providing they have a water source and get 51 percent voter approval to do so.

“The City of Williams has a responsibility for their incorporated areas,” Ryan said. “What (water) they sell beyond those limits is a courtesy.”

Ryan also explained the Arizona Department of Water Resources, not the county, has jurisdiction over water rights. He said the county has lost three court cases when it tried to “intercede in water or water development.”

The city also extended the time for leaving the quarter system functioning at the rodeo grounds standpipe. Users now have until Aug. 15 to acquire a rechargeable plastic debit card at Williams City Hall to operate the digital system. Until that time, the quarter machines at the Williams Rodeo Grounds will be operational along with the new digital system. Originally the quarter system was to have been shut down July 31.

Cards are issued at no cost to the estimated 60 Williams residents who haul water. The price of per gallon of water will be the same charge for both county and city residents. Cards can be recharged at Safeway, 637 W. Route 66, and at city hall, 113 S. First St.

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