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6/12/2013 8:57:00 AM
On again, off again water supply aggravates Humboldt Water customers

Sue Tone

Anyone looking to buy an ice cream cone in Humboldt Monday afternoon was out of luck. Scoopz Ice Cream and Coffee Shop closed its doors in the Humboldt Station shops around 1:30 p.m. because it had no water.

Co-owner of Scoopz, Sonya Williams-Rowe, said the business was without water from about 12:30 p.m. When she called the Humboldt Water Company, she was told the pump broke Friday and a new pump was being installed Monday. Scoopz closed its doors for the rest of the day, and reported that the water was back on Tuesday around 10 a.m.

Paul Juhl, office manager for Southwestern Utility Management in Tucson, which manages Humboldt Water Company, said Monday the company was dealing with pump issues at the main well and working to get it up and running as quickly as possible. In the meantime, Humboldt Water has been hauling water to its storage tank from a neighboring system.

"The top priority is to get water to the customer. We are requesting that everyone conserve and limit consumption to necessary requirements and needs," Juhl said.

Mark Shaffer, communications director with Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, said an outage report Monday noted that a well pump went down Thursday and was quickly replaced. Higher elevations had been experiencing low pressure.

"The information we have received indicates that the pumps and pressure tanks are working correctly although the storage tanks are not replenishing. The on-site technical person feels that there may be a leak draining the system and they are searching the system now to see if that is the case," Shaffer said Tuesday morning.

At the Dewey-Humboldt Town Hall on Main Street, Humboldt, receptionist Cathy Jackson said the town offices had no water on Monday afternoon. Actually, Jackson said, this was not unusual, as the office had no water before its council meeting the week before.

"It happens. If they were going to close down for a big repair, though, it would be nice to know," she said, adding that she's taken a lot of calls from customers thinking the town provided their water. "The water system's got a lot of mad people and I can't blame them."

The water at Jackson's home was off on Sunday, but was running again Monday morning. On Tuesday morning, she said her water had a lot of air and dirt in it..

Another Humboldt resident, Melody Rivera, said she understands that things break down, but she would like HWC to provide some kind of assistance.

"What are we supposed to do? My daughter is stuck at home with three kids. I told her I would pick up drinking water on my way home," Rivera said.

"I wouldn't mind if they raised their rates. It wouldn't be bad if only we had dependable services," she added.

She reported Tuesday morning that she had water, albeit low pressure, but her daughter was still without.

"She can't cool her house, and had to haul water from the neighbor's well. Thank goodness the people in Humboldt are very neighborly," Rivera said.

Rebecca Wilder, communications director with the Arizona Corporation Commission, said the commission is in contact with HWC and working with it to restore services.

"Speaking in generalities, if a company needs to raise revenue to cover costs so it can update its infrastructure, it can apply to the commission for a rate increase," Wilder said.

HWC applied in April for a rate increase. Wilder said it takes a number of months to process the request, review it in depth, and conduct public hearings before approval, and the commission determines the appropriate amount.

Related Stories:
• Dewey-Humboldt residents urge town to take over Humboldt Water System

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2013
Article comment by: To Janie Casey

You say "take some personal responsibility?" Please. If it is so easy to start a water district, why wouldn't the town of D-H do it themselves? Better yet since it seems to be so easy why don't you do the research, and post the how to's here so that someone interested could do so?

It is so easy for people like you to point fingers at others. Tsk Tsk sitting there on you high horse stating what you do for your own well, while telling others what to do for several hundred others.
Taking on a water district is more than personal responisibility.

I have a suggestion, instead of pointing fingers and telling others what to do, why don't you help out? That is taking more responsibility than you are willing to take on I bet.

Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Article comment by: Dewey Renter

Id just like to say that my family and I have been living in this area for a couple of years now and this situation with the water going off repeatedly and when on has higher levels of arsenic than it should is terrible. To make matters worse we're never told in advance to prepare. The water has been turned off more times than I have fingers and toes. I'm not just talking about a few minutes either. A few times specifically I remember it being about 15 hours without any water. Finding out that the water is this bad and half the time we're not getting any, I'm not real happy about the proposed increase. I can also say that right from the beginning I was never told about the situation from the landlord. It's one thing to go camping, it's another to pay your rent just to feel like your camping. So sad to see this happen to such a good little community.

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

I live on a dirt road and could have Humboldt water but chose to be on a well with other families. I also purchased a storage tank as sometimes the water pressure is bad. We test our well periodically and have filters on the water that takes out arsenic. I also often buy bottled water. Those on Humboldt water can form a water district and buy the company and be in charge of their water just like those of us on a well do. Take some personal responsibility.

Posted: Saturday, June 22, 2013
Article comment by: Dear Dewey Homeowner

You must be one of those who have their own well, and probably think that there will be an endless supply of water, thus the HWS issue does not effect you. So why would you care? You are probably one of the lucky ones who lives on paved roads too. Right? I beleive the roads, and the maintenance of said roads, were/are provided by the very same budget you complain about.

HWS serves about 400 residents and businesses. It also serves the elementary school which would include another 400 to 500 water users. These are people, like you, who deserve problem free and contaminant free drinking water.

To inform yourself, I suggest you research the notice of violations through ADEQ, and the complaints at the ACC and learn more through the EPA and U of A studies done on the drinking water before you spew anything more about the town purchasing the water.

Had you gone to Tuesday's meeting you would have heard from concerned citizens, as well as a gentlemen who encouraged that now is the time to adhere water rights and the purchase of HWS if we are ever going to be a thriving community.

I, for one, am tired of waking up and not having water due to the old water lines or pumps breaking all the time. But what really puts it to me is the fact that I pay for water that is consistantly contaminated with Arsenic. While you may be on a well and think you are safe from Arsenic, that is just fine. However, public water supplies are governed by the Safe Drinking Water Act, and thusly HWS is failing its customers.

If the town of D-H were to purchase the water and its infrastructure there a many grants available that will not only help with the purchase, but to improve the system. The community of D-H would then benefit from the revenue it would receive from those 400 residents, thus benefitting you as well.

I may not be able to convince you of this, but I will say this, you are wlecome to come to my home anytime and have a drink of my Arsenic, and sometime, Nitrate filled, drinking water.

Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2013
Article comment by: Dewey Homeowner

I am very confused. I watch budget meetings online. The same town that has problems fixing roads, funding dump days and recycle bin is now talking about spending millions to buy the water company. Go to council meetings and stop this waste.

Posted: Sunday, June 16, 2013
Article comment by: Rose Eitemiller


HWS could have commissioned the ADEQ for a grant that would not only help with any upgrades and repairs, but also offset any rate increase to its customers.

I for one do not agree with a rate increase. HWS has had several Notices of Violation which includes, but not limited to, Arsenic and Nitrate levels in the water, not to mention the fact that we customers are subject to several days throughout the year without the use of water impeding the ability for must of us to continue our daily routines.

For those interested, Tuesday June 18th several community members will be addressing the water issue with the Town Council.

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: JACQUELINE Mattheis

Does the pump go out every year? We have the same problem at least once a year. It's understandable but some notice before hand would be nice.

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: John Euson

The repair or replacement of a failed water pump taking a weekend to fix is unexceptable. You can get 24 hour repair service in Phoenix at several large motor repair facilities. One in particular is Keller Electric.

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: John Euson

If that pump is so critical to the system operation, Why don't they have a standby unit on site?

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