At times the two-hour meeting between representatives from the Arizona Water Company and residents became heated due to a proposed 1.5 million gallon water tank near the Mystic Hills subdivision.
Around 60 people turned out on Jan. 10, at the Sedona United Methodist Church for the first public meeting to discuss the project since last March. Several of those nearby residents who spoke said they are not opposed to the project, just its location. The tank would be installed on vacant land owned by the company at the intersection of State Route 179 and West Mallard Drive.
Arizona Water Company is seeking to build a new tank that will not only provide service reliability for residents but will help better serve in the event of a fire.
“We are proposing this storage project in order to make sure that the surrounding community’s water demands, water supply sources, storage and booster pump station requirements are being reliably and adequately met,” the company’s website states.
According to the company, the project would include:
- Water storage tank with up to a 1.5 million gallon capacity, most of which will not be visible because it will be built underground.
- Operational facilities built on top of the reservoir in an architectural style similar to surrounding homes.
- A booster pump station capable of delivering up to 3,000 gallons per minute.
“We want to make sure 20 years down the road, when the rest of those lots are built on by people building their dream home, that they have the same experience as you do,” said Keith Self, the company’s Verde Valley division manager. “You’re on a long dead-end line. If something happens between Tlaquepaque and Mystic Hills you could be out of water. We need storage on this side of the creek. That way in case there is an event we’ll have water for residents as well as for fire protection.”
Before the first shovel can be placed in the ground, Arizona Water Company must first go through the city’s lengthy vetting process and obtain a conditional use permit. No date has been set for this project to be heard before the Sedona Planning and Zoning Commission. But if approved, this would be the first tank the company has installed in Sedona in more than 20 years.
Company spokesman Rick Ruiz led the discussion and said during construction the plan would be to dig 30 feet down in order to conceal the majority of the tank. The ideal manner of doing so would be to blast the bedrock, saving several weeks of digging. The blasted area would be topped with a protective matting that dramatically cuts down on debris and noise.
Ruiz said that upward of 15,000 cubic feet of bedrock from the site will be removed. One to two rock trucks will haul material from the site each hour, using a four-tenths of a mile route through neighborhoods to SR 179. The company has yet to determine where the materials will be taken. After four to five months for excavation, there will be a steady stream of cement trucks coming to and from the site. The entire project is supposed to take up to nine months.
“We understand there is going to be a big impact,” Ruiz said.
During an October meeting with representatives from Mystic Hills, two questions raised that day were the same raised last week: What’s the possibility of using U.S Forest Service land a few hundred yards away from the proposed site, and will the development impact drainage, causing additional flooding for properties below the tank?
Regarding the use of federal lands for the tank, the water company met with the USFS in November and was told that lower costs or fewer restrictions are not adequate reasons for use of federal lands for the project.
“Given the development restrictions applied by the USFS, we believe it would be virtually impossible to achieve our goals on USFS lands,” the company wrote in a letter to nearby residents. “With these restrictions in mind, we intend to move ahead with our current plan.”
As for causing additional drainage or impacting the current drainage way from Mystic Hills, which drains from the east side and under State Route 179, the company said there will be little to no increase in runoff from their project beyond what a single-family home would generate. However, if the city is convinced that there is a danger of excess runoff, the company would capture the runoff on its property.
Some of those in the audience disagreed with this assertion and requested additional proof and assurance from the water company. The company’s representatives said they would be happy to host another public meeting in the next 45 days to address some of the specific concerns raised during the recent meeting.
Following the Jan. 10 meeting, Ruiz addressed the potential flooding issue.
“The flooding problem along West Mallard Drive is a pre-existing condition for the three affected homeowners,” he said. “The wash adjacent to those homes carries runoff from much of the Mystic Hills development and the surrounding area through a large concrete culvert under State Highway 179 and leads it to Oak Creek.
“The two lots Arizona Water proposes to use contributes less than 1 percent of the total flow that goes down the wash. Our calculations, which are based on a two-hour-long, 100-year storm, show that by using retention basins at various points around the site, runoff can be reduced below what occurs naturally on the two lots or if two homes were built on the property.”