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Growing Arizona city surfaces creative water solution

A new five-mile pipeline and treatment facility will allow one of the country’s fastest growing communities to supplement its groundwater supply with surface water for the first time.

“There was going to be a point in the near future when we couldn’t pump all the water that our demand would need,” said Barbara Chappell, deputy public works director for the Future Goodyear water treatment facilitycity of Goodyear, Ariz. “We had to find a way to bring surface water into our city.” (Pictured right, future Goodyear water treatment facility)

Goodyear, a utility member of the American Water Works Association, is located about 20 miles west of Phoenix. Its population was roughly 18,000 two decades ago. Today it has nearly 85,000 residents and city planners estimate the population will nearly double by 2030. The city’s growth is driven in part by a strong job market, a sunny climate and space to build.  
Barbara Chappell
All the city’s water comes from underground and is limited in supply and by state regulations. Goodyear is not located within the boundaries of the Central Arizona Project, a 336-mile system that brings Colorado River water to central and southern Arizona, “and we needed a solution pretty quickly,” said Chappell (pictured left).

In 2016, one idea rose to the top: Goodyear could capitalize on its unused shares of the Colorado River by partnering with the Salt River Project, which provides water and power to two million people in central Arizona. The Salt River Project delivers water through a network of canals, reservoirs and pipes to customers east of the city, but Goodyear was not within its service area.

To accomplish that, the two agencies finalized a water transportation agreement in 2017. Then, Goodyear began plans to build the infrastructure necessary to deliver its water from the west end of the Salt River Project ― about five miles away ― to its customers.

The $129 million project includes a new pump station along the Salt River Project’s lateral, five miles of raw water pipe, an eight-million-gallon-per-day surface water treatment facility, and distribution pipe to connect to the rest of the city’s system.

The new system is slated to begin operating in December 2021 and is financed by bonds that will be paid for with rates and development fees. The city has plans to expand Growth in Goodyear)the treatment facility ― which will be Goodyear’s largest ― if needed in a decade or so, doubling its capacity and allowing the city to use all its Colorado River water allocation, Chappell said. (Pictured right, growth in Goodyear)

The surface water project is part of a much larger master plan that calls for aggressive water conservation and reclamation to offset the rapid pace of growth in the area. Supplementing groundwater supplies with the city’s share of surface water, she said, is an equally important step toward meeting the community’s needs.  

The project is a collaborative effort on many levels, from transporting raw water via the Salt River Project ― an agreement that took a mere seven months to finalize― to delivering its shares via a design-build-operate partnership with the engineering firm Jacobs. These partnerships have resulted in some innovative work, such as leveraging existing facilities at the adjacent wastewater plant for potable water treatment, she said.

“Partnering with someone and working through this design project has been really great,” Chappell said. “Here we are, two years after negotiating the first contract, and I’m watching dirt being moved out my window right now. It’s been amazing and fun.”

 


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