The water softening system is back in.
Representatives from an engineering and energy services company attended a workshop with the Town of Duncan Friday to catch council members up on their latest work on behalf of the town.
Back in May, the council voted to have Veregy look at the town’s mechanical and electrical systems to see if they need to be repaired or improved with an eye toward cost savings. Veregy was also asked to analyze solar and renewable energy opportunities.
In June, Veregy told council members that after inspecting the town’s buildings and water and wastewater systems they were recommending the town allow them to seek grant funding that would pay for a $2.5 million-$3 million for the water softener/meter reading system, $600,000-$1.2 million wastewater overhaul and $200,000-$400,000 in building upgrades.
In September, council members were told they were no longer recommending a water softening system because of issues with the water pressure throughout town. They also said that a more extensive study of the town’s water revealed that although the water is hard it’s not as hard as originally thought in the primary well and it’s comparable to many other towns in Arizona.
The town’s water is so hard it’s caused tuberculation, meaning there’s scaling inside the pipes. The scaling is disrupting the flow of the water, particularly in the Hunter Estates area, which includes Duncan Elementary School. It’s also impacting everyone’s meters and likely providing inaccurate readings, the Veregy representatives said.
On Friday, Edward Farrell said they’ve decided to add the water softening system back into the project, but instead of locating it at the main well, they’ll put equipment in at water tanks at opposite ends of town.
Interim Town Manager Philip Cushman said it’s difficult to say what kind of an impact the change will make on the project’s total cost because parts’ prices are no longer being guaranteed further than seven days out and the project won’t be signed approved by council members unless or until further grant funding is received. So far, Freeport-McMoRan has approved a $270,000 grant for the project, but several other grant applications are awaiting approval, including two grants from the United Way for $650,000 and $82,000.
The town also intends to seek funding from the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona.
If the town receives enough grant funding, all of the town’s 340 water meters would be replaced with ones that can be read accurately and remotely and result in automated billing. Various tanks and other components of the town’s water and sewage system would also be replaced.
Farrell also told council members Friday the company that installs more water meters in the state than another other company has declined to take on the project because of liability issues. While conducting a four-day study of Duncan’s system they discovered 58% of the town’s flow stops are frozen, making it impossible for the water to be turned off. They also learned, the corroded pipes are right next to gas lines, Farrell said.
On a positive note, Farrell said Veregy will take on the project.
“We’ve got the resources, the tools, the experience and the qualifications to do these meters,” Farrell said. “We’ll have our expert plumbers come up, we’ll look for local help to help us install these meters and we’ll do the best within our power to make sure 100 percent of your water meters will be replaced.”
Also during Friday’s workshop, the council heard from representatives from the Desert Cat Rescue and Sanctuary of Arizona. The town currently doesn’t have an animal control department or shelter and is just starting to explore what would be involved in starting one.
Cushman said he met the Christensens, the founders of the Safford-based Sanctuary, at SalsaFest and invited them to share their insights. They suggested the town consider using one of its buildings for a shelter and that’s one of the options the town could consider, he said.
Due to scheduling issues, the town did not hold a previously scheduled financial management training with consultant Patricia Walker.
The town manager’s selection committee is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9.
The council’s regular town meeting is set for 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 10.