What’s next for Bullhead City water system? (September 3, 2021)

BULLHEAD CITY — Bullhead City now operates the system supplying water to more than 21,000 homes and businesses in the area.

What’s next?

According to Bullhead City Utilities Director Mark Clark, ensuring that the system operates the way it is supposed to — and keeping it that way.

This first year of operation is just maintenance and operation, Clark said a few hours after Bullhead City Utilities took possession of EPCOR Water Arizona’s Mohave and North Mohave systems on Wednesday.

Improvements will wait — although some already are being planned.

First, though, a comprehensive water master plan will be developed. The city is nearly ready to issue a call for bids to prepare the document.

That master plan is a roadmap to the future of our water system, Clark said.

It will address current and future needs, based on anticipated growth, and also will include an analysis of the current systems and their immediate and long-term needs.

One need Clark and his staff immediately identified was some functional redundancy in the systems which, he pointed out, actually are six separate stand-alone systems with little or no interconnection.

When people refer to the Mohave and North Mohave systems, there really are six different systems, he said, pointing to a map showing the self-contained systems that each have their own well — in most cases, wells — and storage facilities.

That’s a double-edged sword; if each system operates flawlessly, with no major failures of main lines, wells, pumps or storage tanks, everything is fine.

But if a major component goes down, there is no adjacent connected system to provide any solution or help mitigate the outage.

The recent well failure that forced shutdown of a water system in the Mohave County-operated Golden Valley Water Improvement District left 500 of the system’s 1,200 customers without water for several days.

A motor on the well had to be replaced and it took time for the county to find a motor, have it shipped to the Kingman area and have it installed.

Had there been an interconnected system, the service outage would have been considerably shorter — or not have taken place at all.

Clark said the systems — he called them Mohave Main, Desert Foothills/Laughlin Ranch, Lake Mohave Highlands and North Mohave systems in Bullhead City and the Rio Vista and Camp Mohave systems in Fort Mohave — need some interconnection in the future.

How long in the future that is may hinge upon the recommendations of the master plan.

Another task the city is undertaking soon is internal inspection of the storage tanks that hold water produced by 20 wells within the Mohave and North Mohave systems.

We have two divers lined up who can do that, said Marti Blad, deputy utilities director.

The city will be developing another request for bids for that task, which includes a physical inspection of the condition of the tanks as well as photographic and video documentation of each.

Blad said it is likely inspection will reveal sediment in the tanks — that’s a natural occurrence as water is pumped into and out of the storage facilities — but hopes that it is minimal and that there are no other issues that will need to be addressed immediately.

Clark said the city already has the personnel to run and maintain the system efficiently.

Clark, Blad and Utilities Construction Manager Ryan Farnell all have four certifications — water treatment, water distribution, wastewater treatment and wastewater collection — required by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

Clark will be the listed operator of the system.

You cannot operate a water system without a certified operator, Clark said, noting that Bullhead City has that more than covered.

We are going to have the best, the most professional, the most qualified, the most experienced staff of anywhere around, said Blad, who worked for ADEQ for four years and helped develop some of the licensing requirements that include annual testing and a combination of education and on-the-job experience.

Clark said experience was a big factor in the city’s hiring decisions for staff for the water division of the utilities department.

Some of them have experience on this system itself, he said, referring to EPCOR employees who transferred to the city. Some of them aren’t as familiar with this system, but they all have experience in water systems.

Source: Bill McMillen, Mohave Daily News