Commentary: When it comes to water conservation, Cottonwood sets example for others to follow

Doug Bartosh

Doug Bartosh

I would like to thank Mr. Paul Ziebell regarding his letter to the editor in the September 23rd addition of the Verde Independent/Camp Verde Bugle. Mr. Ziebell, you are absolutely right, we live in a desert and what we pay for water delivery is reasonable and if you do a comparison of other municipalities in the northern region of the state you will find that the cost of the Cottonwood water service is not the highest or is it the lowest. In fact, the cost to Cottonwood customers is about the middle of the list.

I am not sure in your letter what you are referring to when you write about the “new water facility” so I am going to assume you may be referring to the new water reclamation plant at Riverfront Park.

The Riverfront Plant will be used to treat up to 300,000 gallons per day of wastewater. The plant will save taxpayer dollars by not requiring that we pump all that wastewater uphill to the Mingus Wastewater Plant and from having to replace $5 million to $6 million in wastewater force mains. We will also be able to use the reclaimed water from the wastewater plant to irrigate our largest park area eliminating the need to use ground or ditch water.

The city will also be injecting the high quality reclaimed water back into the aquifers to help replenish what we remove. Finally, the reclamation plant is not a water project. It is a wastewater project that is funded through wastewater revenues and in this case it is paid for through the wastewater capital reserve fund that had the funds for the plant in the bank. Water and wastewater funds are two separate enterprise accounts that are supported through fees that are not interchanged.

In terms of using reclaimed water to supplement potable water, Arizona has not reached that point. The biggest hurdle, beyond convincing the customers that it is safe for consumption, is the need to change the laws in Arizona that would allow such use.

Efforts to make such changes are in process, but it is probably a few years away. In the interim, the City of Cottonwood is striving to achieve as much reuse as possible with the water that we do remove from the aquifers.

We began installing reclaimed water lines around the city with the plan of irrigating our largest grass areas with reclaimed water. The city has initiated the drilling and permitting of two injection wells with more to follow that will allow us to replace what we pump from the ground.

If you learn more about what Cottonwood is doing to conserve and reuse water, I believe you will find that we are setting the example for others to follow.

Doug Bartosh is the Cottonwood City Manager

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