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City OKs water well boring deal

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Cottonwood is one step closer to a potential solution for an inoperable injection well at Riverfront Wastewater Reclamation Facility.

On Tuesday, Aug. 15, Cottonwood City Council approved a $123,233.41 contract with KP Ventures Well Drilling & Pump Co. for “the drilling, geophysical logging and development of a deep boring” at Cottonwood Kids Park adjacent to the Verde Valley Fairgrounds.

According to the city’s staff report, KP Ventures will have an option to complete the boring into an injection well. The city received three bids on the project, with the highest coming in at $254,199.

The contract was approved by a 6-1 vote, with Mayor Timothy Elinski offering the single nay. Elinski said that he was concerned about the ongoing pricing of the infrastructure needed to pump reclaimed water from Riverfront to Kids Park. In order to make the best decision for the city, he added, City Council should have a clear understanding from staff about the associated costs.

“My reason for being opposed is I don’t want to piecemeal this,” Elinksi said.

Still outstanding is a cost estimate of the pipe needed to transport reclaimed water uphill, as well as the annual electrical bill of operating the pump. The pump infrastructure is already installed at Riverfront.

City of Cottonwood Natural Resources Director Tom Whitmer spoke in favor of the boring, which if developed into an injection well would allow for irrigation at Kids Park. In order to determine additional uses for recalaimed water, Whitmer met with representatives of the fairgrounds and Minerals Research, an adjacent facility engaged in the heavily groundwaterdemanding process of processing slag for industrial purposes.

“It potentially looks like the site might have multiple uses,” Whitmer said, adding that Minerals Research’s use of Riverfront’s reclaimed water is dependent on the water’s chloride content.

Chlorides are corrosive to metal, meaning that abrasives produced by Minerals Research are limited to a maximum chloride content. Should the chloride content prove too high, Whitmer said Minerals Research might be willing to blend groundwater and reclaimed water.

Councilwoman Deb Althouse raised the possibility of Granite Mountain Assets, the Prescottbased developer of the Vineyards at Cottonwood housing development, using Riverfront’s reclaimed water for dust control and irrigation.

Whatever applications the reclaimed water is used for, Whitmer said that it equals a reduction in groundwater used in Cottonwood. While not discounting the possibility of pumping the reclaimed water into Cottonwood Ditch or another wash, Whitmer said that the option would require a permit from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, which has not previously been in favor of reclaimed water potentially reaching natural water sources.

More concerning, according to Whitmer, is that off-flowing the water into a ditch or wash does not “recharge the regional aquifer from which it draws [and] makes little sense if we’re trying to build a portfolio [of water to use].”

Whitmer said that putting reclaimed water directly into Cottonwood’s drinking water is “by far” the most efficient solution to the problem of what to do with reclaimed water, but for now it’s only a “future possibility.” Additional treatment would need to occur at the source to produce potable water and significant education would need to occur in order to change the public’s perception of drinking reclaimed water.

“People don’t want to think about that,” Whitmer said of the “toilet to tap” process.

Also Tuesday, council unanimously approved the final zoning map alteration to two parcels of hillside property, one of which houses the vacant Masonic Lodge, at 770 N. Verde Heights Drive and 75 W. Pima Street. The property is intended to house the proposed Galileo 33 winery, restaurant and tasting room. The total extent of the property is approximately seven acres, approximately five of which will be developed into a terraced vineyard with walking paths for visitors to enjoy.

To allay the fears of multiple area residents who expressed concern about pesticide and other chemical usage on the property, Galileo 33 Project Manager Matt McGuire said that the vineyard would use an organic growing process with backpack-based application of pesticides, as opposed to a fumigation technique.

“This is not an aerated form [of pesticide],” McGuire said. “It’s right on the plant, very direct.” In addition, Galileo 33 intends to harvest rainwater off-flowing from the property, reducing the chances of pesticides or other chemicals reaching nearby water sources or soil.

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