On Friday, December 2, 2016, Craig Johnson, Executive Director of Water

Director of Water Services Craig Johnson

Services, invited me to the first of two tours to bring me up to speed on the current status of the city’s water department. We began with a staff meeting of the various department heads briefing me on the current activities within their departments. The water department

Water Service personnel

represents one of the Enterprise groups of the city. The Enterprise groups…water & sewer, sanitation and landfill are stand alone departments. They rely upon rate payers to fund the cost of their operations and maintenance. Although they are components of the city’s budget they do not rely upon the city’s General Fund.

I learned about the sources of water that the city uses to provide potable water…Central Arizona Project (CAP) water; Salt River Project (SRP) water;

Water Services personnel

and well water. The water that we drink in Glendale is usually a blend of all three sources. I learned about water management and how certain water treatment plants such as Pinnacle Peak’s usage is reduced during the winter months so that any required repairs can be performed when the demand is reduced. The different water resources are used in greater amounts during different times of the year. During the summer months the city will use more CAP water to meet the periods of highest demand.

If your water is warm coming out of the tap during the summer months there are reasons why that occurs. The water piping delivery system that is below ground is relatively shallow and as a result the water warms up. The well water we use also tends to be warm as well.

Glendale does not treat its sewage. Rather it has a percentage interest in the Sub Regional Operating Group ( SROG), a Phoenix facility to which various Valley cities belong. All member cities send their sewer water to SROG which cleans the water and then sells it to the Palo Verde Nuclear Facility for their cooling towers. The revenue earned from the sale of wastewater is distributed to each participant based upon each city’s level of participation.

I also had an opportunity to visit the Operations Center and viewed much of the equipment used by the water department. This department uses a wide variety of specialized equipment; from stocking residential water meters to huge commercial water meters; keeping a wide array of cameras in all shapes and sizes to inspect both water and sewer lines; and using various vehicles for specific applications. I found it interesting to learn that approximately 20 miles of water and/or sewer lines (about 2,000 miles of

One of cameras used to inspect pipes

lines annually) are inspected daily. The department has the ability to remove blockages that can save a street from being torn up. If I remember my stats correctly, the city’s meter readers ready approximately 450 meters a day.

It is obvious that the men and women of the city’s water department work hard to provide us with the safest drinking water possible, efficient removal of wastewater and an effective water delivery system.  They are proud of their work. They are dedicated to providing the very best service possible to the residents of Glendale.

My second foray into the water world was an invitation by Salt River Project to participate in a helicopter tour of their watershed area and their dam system on Friday, December 9, 2016. The last time I took their tour was about 10 years ago and I was fortunate enough to have been able to take my Dad (age 90). He never forgot it and talked about it often.

I and about a dozen other people, including Jenna Goad of Glendale’s Intergovernmental Department, Joy Rich, Maricopa County Manager, and Reid Spaulding, Maricopa Deputy County Manager were invited. Prior to the tour we were briefed by various Salt River Project (SRP) department heads. SRP is actually comprised of two divisions: the water distribution side and the power delivery side.

In the 1860’s Jack Swilling organized the first Valley irrigation system using the ancient Hohokam  canal system. For years it worked well but in the early 1900’s, the Valley experienced a period of extreme drought. Valley farmers recognized the need to develop a reliable water supply and so, they mortgaged their farms to raise the collateral to build SRP’s first retention dam, the Roosevelt Dam. The owners of 200,000 acres of Valley land formed the Salt River Valley Water Users Association, and became shareholders in the organization, according to how much land they owned. Other dams in the SRP watershed system include the Horse Mesa Dam at Apache Lake, the Mormon Flat Dam at Canyon Lake, the Stewart Mountain Dam at Saguaro Lake, Horseshoe Dam, Bartlett Dam, Granite Reef Diversion Dam and the C.C. Cragin Dam. Currently SRP’s watershed is 47% full.

Although it was slightly chilly, the day was crisp and the air clean. The helicopter tour lasted about an hour and a half and fortunately, no barf bags were employed. At times we were no more than about 500 feet above ground and had wonderful views of each of the dam structures.

It was a wonderful opportunity and SRP is to be thanked for providing such an opportunity to learn in-depth about their water delivery systems. They are to be commended for providing all those on the tour representing other municipalities and Maricopa county a close up view of the Valley’s water supply.

© Joyce Clark, 2016        


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