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7/3/2013 8:34:00 AM
Dewey-Humboldt residents urge town to take over Humboldt Water System

Sue Tone

For some 324 households or businesses on the Humboldt Water System, it makes sense to ask the town to buy the company, upgrade the pumps and pipes, and deliver clean, safe water. On the other hand, it would mean the other 82 percent of Dewey-Humboldt residents who are on private wells or haul water would help pay for the service.

At Mayor Terry Nolan's request, a discussion item appeared on the June 18 council agenda and brought several water customers to the meeting to urge the town to buy the water company. Nolan said Tim Kyllo, owner of the water company, has approached him about selling the company.

Earlier in June, many customers had no water or spotty service for several days. According to a report from Southwestern Utility Management to the Arizona Corporation Commission, a burned-out pump and possible leak in the storage tanks caused the lack of water and/or low pressure.

Humboldt resident Rose Eitemiller told the council she has been buying drinking water for her family for the past year and a half - since she received test results from her tap water indicating high levels of arsenic.

"I should not have to buy drinking water while I pay for water at the tap," Eitemiller said, adding that she's aware of grant money that would help the town bring the older water system up to date.

Humboldt Water System has two wells, and has encountered problems in the past with arsenic and nitrate levels that exceed the maximum levels allowed by federal law. The two most recent test results indicate arsenic levels at 21.1 parts per billion on Feb. 10, and 21.2 ppb on May 23. The Maximum Contaminant Level for arsenic is 10 ppb.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality requires HWS to test quarterly for arsenic and nitrate levels. The company and ADEQ entered into a Consent Agreement in December 2012, in which Kyllo was to apply for an Approval to Construct a treatment system using best available technology, including a blending plan, to achieve compliance for arsenic and nitrate levels. Oftentimes, water systems will combine water from two wells - one exceeding Maximum Contaminant Level and one less than MCL - to provide safe water at the distribution entry point that does not exceed the MCL.

This past year, HWS delivered blended water to customers without first submitting the proper applications to construct an approved blending system. ADEQ issued several Notices of Violation in July 2012 for this and for failures to provide customers notice of test results when arsenic and nitrates exceeded MCL.

Council members Jack Hamilton and Nancy Wright opposed any action by the town to acquire the Humboldt Water System. Hamilton cited the age and condition of the pipes and also the arsenic and nitrate issues. He said it would take "millions and millions of dollars" to bring the system up to current standards.

Wright said Cave Creek, a similar-sized town, recently bought two water companies, which drove the town $60 million in debt.

"It is not cheap. Unless the people of Humboldt form a water district, I don't know if it's fair to the 75 percent of the population not receiving benefit of the water," she said.

Nolan mentioned the 400 students at Humboldt Elementary School, which gets its water from HWS. The school district shut off its drinking fountains in August this past year after HWS released a public notice about exceeding the federal limits for arsenic. The district provided bottled water, and in October 2012, completed installation of water tanks and a filtration system. Workers at the school change the filters and test for arsenic and nitrate levels on a quarterly basis.

Council member Mark McBrady said he wants to look at possibly purchasing the company. He said benefits would include building water tanks for fire suppression in downtown Humboldt.

"We're never going to go anywhere without purchasing water," McBrady said. "The town could hire someone to look at the water company's books. It's about time to do something and start growing."

Council member Dennis Repan said he wants to see substantiation on the grants mentioned by several people at the meeting, and also would like the owner, Kyllo, present to provide more information.

Kyllo applied in April to the Arizona Corporation Commission for a rate increase. His request has a docket date of Sept. 6 before the Commission. To view the 302-page application, go to Search for W-02197A-13-0115. The public can comment on the request by sending an email to or send a letter to Arizona Corporation Commission, 1300 W. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85007.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, July 12, 2013
Article comment by: Not seeing this through Through Rose colored Glasses

Grants are just what they sound that is granted for reasons underlined in that particular grant and proposal.
The town should do something though, besides of course arguing why it shouldnt be done.
Even though the ground water and soil is contaminated supposedly only west of the creek, all homeowners whether on well water or not should be concerned because at some point, the wells will become just as contaminated if they arent already.
This I do know, I am on well water and live a mile above the creek and I've got to say that if my water sits in the sink for 1 day, it is some of the most smelly and slimy scank anyone would want to see..I am afraid to test it for fear of what will show up so in the meantime, we drink bottled water as do the animals.
At some point here, the Town has to get on board with the people and quit nay-saying every damn thing that comes through the door and on to their table.

Posted: Friday, July 12, 2013
Article comment by: Lynn Cee

Well owners VS water company customers.
First of all, if the town institutes an improvement district or folks form their own water district or the town buys the water company- the water company users can count on one thing-higher water bills.
It is hard to see how any other outcome can result-unless, of course, the town finds a way to spread the expenses of the water system across the board. It will be a utility. So it is probable that everyone will be taxed on this deal..
I had the misfortune of living in an irrigation district once - I didn't have irrigation, but I still had the assessment billed to me based on my property size.
I too am a believer in personal responsibility. When I lived in the Phx area, I can tell you the last thing you ever wanted to do was drink or cook with the muck that came out of the tap. I bought all my drinking water. That was the cost of living in a place like that. And we didn't have the option of water truck delivery we had to get it by the bottle from the store. About 1.29 a gallon.
IMO maybe the victims of this water co. should find a lawyer and get a class action suit going. Of course that will probably kill the water company.
The big villain here is the feds who just up and pulled a bright, shiny new "standard" out of their bumhole one day and caused all of this.
The little villain here is the Mayor who is seizing upon folks misery as an excuse to buy a very old infrastucture for the purpose of gambling that it will somehow bring development here (which most of us don't want). That would make his buddies in the construction industry very happy though. Which is where his true sympathies lay.
If he gets his way everyone loses. You will see dry wells everywhere, more people will use more water. More businesses will use more water. And then we will all be paying for hauled water.

Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Article comment by: Think Ahead

The issue for me is not well owners vs HWS users, it is the financial burden on a very small town. The owner of a water system has to abide by standards set by federal and state laws. Just as the current owner has the financial burden to meet these, those costs would be the towns if they own it. When the arsenic limit was lowered a while back, I recall it was very expensive to add all the equipment needed to meet the new legal limit. These laws change from time to time, and D-H has also EPA here and who knows where that will lead with water issues. The external regulations that must be complied with now and in the future can be very expensive and the town's budget is better spent on the legally mandated responsibilities the town has, not an unpredictable utility company.

Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Article comment by: Rose Eitemiller

Some of your comments are truly disheartening. So you well owners pay for your pumps, and your filtration systems, and feel that YOU shouldn't have to pay for the 400 students and 300 plus residents who have, or drink from the Humboldt Water System? I say to you, I pay for you to have paved roads when mine isn't. I paid for your children to go to school long before mine ever did. I pay for county taxes that benefit others in other towns and cities that I do not benefit from nor use. I could go on and on. The thing is we all pay taxes for many things that we may not personally use, but we may at some point somehow benefit from one way or another.

The fact is this: We as a community are an infrasture of possibilities, and without water ownership those possibilities will never come. I am not quite sure why you all are so against the purchase of HWS including you Mr. Nystrom. I doubt that any of you would be effected by a taxation on water since you would not be part of the water system. I am not sure, as it hasn't happened yet, but as I said, I doubt it.

I find it funny how all of you speak your words when you think it may effect your wallet, but none of you will show up to a town meeting, or EPA meeting to hear concerns of your fellow community members when it effects their health and the health of the community over all and it's children.

Some of you well owners have wells that exceed the EPA mcl/ppb arsenic levels. It is your responsibility as a PRIVATE well owner to do or not do as you wish. Those of us on HWS are at the mercy of the owner who chooses to do or not to do as he wishes. That is something that we as consumers of HWS cannot control.

Mr. Nystrom seems to be an educated man on the subject of Grants. I agree with him only that Grants exist. They are there for the taking, if we don't take advantage of Grant opportunities then cities like Prescott will.

All I can ask is that you take part in your community more, educate yourself about the possibilities of having water rights as a manicipality, and then if you still want to turn your eyes away and shun those of us and the children at Humboldt Elementary by telling us it is our problem not yours........then I guess what I have been doing for the sake of community members like you and your children has been for nothing.

Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Article comment by: Dewey Homeowner

If you follow town council meetings, the Mayor has put this issue of buying the water company on the agenda several times, the last in the budget meetings.

It was discussed in detail and voted down overwhelmingly. The item of a $20,000 plus study to acquire the company was also voted down and is not in the budget.

The council appeared very sensitive to the water issues of the rest of the community. They have their own problems with water-they live here too.It is beyond our comprehension as to why Mayor Nolan wants to take on this burden and bankrupt the town but it seems he and Councilman McBrady are alone in this fight.

That's why several councilmembers are trying to force them to bring all the facts and grant requirements they sited to the table.

It is a bad idea-but dealing with the water issues the state has and all of us have with quality and quantity of water is a good one.
Email our council and tell them how you feel.

Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Article comment by: humboldt resident

I have my own well, and recently had to replace our pump, as well as 2 years ago had to purchase a arsenic and lead filter so our family can be safe, WHY would I and other well owners have to help pay for the water company for the town if I am not using the towns water for my household? yes I do know it is expensive but no I do not think so. you have residents that are having to buy water for there family's and still having pay for there water and they are angry about it, well so am I.

Posted: Monday, July 8, 2013
Article comment by: Sue Tone

The Town of Dewey-Humboldt has one of the best government websites which I regularly visit to retrieve information. Staff does an excellent job keeping it updated.
From Town Clerk Judy Morgan on Monday, July 8: Our website was hacked in June, which has restricted us from posting anything to the site. We are currently having the site rebuilt and are hoping to have it up either later this week or by next week, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

Posted: Sunday, July 7, 2013
Article comment by: David D Nystrom, Dewey-Humboldt

Why It's Called a Grant and Not a Promise

The Mayor and his followers on this issue, will tell you grant money will pay for repair and upgrades. As some members of the Town Council tell you grants will cover the cost, be sure to consider the following points...

- Being eligible for a grant and being awarded a grant are two different things. A promise is something you get for sure, a grant is something which is granted to you (not promised). The Town will most likely only be awarded a fraction of the grants eligible and applied for. There are no guarantees! It seems me I've heard and read of other Towns in Arizona have a significant financial liability with Water and Sewer systems, which aren't completely covered by grants - even though they may have expert grant writers. A little research is probably warranted here, to determine how other cities and towns faired using grant funding to make major infrastructure improvements on a aging and poor source of water.

- Grant applications are often awarded based on two factors meeting the grant requirements and demonstration of need. With the Town's fully funded Contingency and Reserve Funds, still yielding an excess of million dollars in the Unassigned Fund Balance, how will the Town demonstrate financial need compared to other Towns which apply for grants when in a much poorer financial condition?

- Grants often require matching funds, what will be the source of providing matching funds? Will this come from the General Fund, along with the initial funds to purchase and operate the water system? After the initial purchase and matching grant funds are spent, how will the funds be replenished? I think people will have a tough time believing higher water rates in D-H will generate excess revenue for a Town run system.

In my opinion, part of the fiscal debt problems our State and Federal government face, is due to a redistribution of wealth in the form of grants. Not grants from private institutions or companies, not grants spent within the same community, but huge multi-million dollar grants of public money. Grants that cause an increasing tax burden, usually not to the benefit of the individual paying the taxes. I'm not saying, "don't use grant money", I am saying "remember grant money is not free - it is still our tax dollars" and whether it's our money or some else's money (grant) it should be spend wisely, carefully and only as absolutely necessary.

Posted: Friday, July 5, 2013
Article comment by: Concerned D-H Resident

Let the current owner of the water company fix everything that is wrong with this system, including the questionable pipes, and provide decent water to its customers. This system will be a money pit for someone, and I dont think it should be the town. If the town purchases it, next thing will be they need to hire more staff. The town is new and inexperienced at owning such a complicated and old system that it flawed at the source of the water and also its components. It would be a tremendous investment of energy, time and money even if grants can help. This responsibility, if taken up by the town, will be an ongoing problem. Let the company and the state make it right.

Posted: Thursday, July 4, 2013
Article comment by: Lynn Cee

Bingo!, both of you are right (Casey & water user).
Of course Nolan wants hi-density housing to replace the country folks who live here. And is using this as an excuse.
And the idea of THIS town buying a water company when we all know how great our roads are now.
Not only that, they can't even keep the public documents on their website up in a timely manner. None of the minutes, summaries or packets from Council or Zoning have been posted since mid-May!. And that should make everyone nervous since they are actively plotting to reduce our property rights via the zoning code rewrite they are doing.
No I don't trust them with a water company, when they can't even keep a website working right.
This is a bad situation. Anyone who buys a house or property in AZ knows you do it at your own peril, there are poor standards for disclosure, and the real estate industry is very well protected in this state, often at the expense of homebuyers.
I feel bad for the Humboldt folks who depend on the water company, but folks who have their own wells already pay for all their own maintainance, equipment replacements and testing.
If I were living in Humboldt I'd scrape together what I could to buy a water tank just for drinking water, and use the water company stuff for flushing toilets ect., when it is available. Sad.
It is yet another reason why the historic Humboldt projects are mostly a pipe dream.

Posted: Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Article comment by: D-H Water User

Guess I'm missing the point - Why/how will the water be better if the Town buys the water company??

Posted: Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Article comment by: Janie Casey

The fact is that the mayor never has cared about arsenic in the water. He only is interested in dense housing and re zoning to allow lots of businesses. He often declared that arsenic has never killed anyone in the last 100 years so it isn't a problem. He is using the health issue for his own ends.

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