Christopher Creek Water Company In A Catch 22

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Editor:

Christopher Creek Haven Water Company last week downgraded the water system to a Level 3 (water production less than 50% - No outside watering regulation). One well is "off" line. Two wells are providing water at diminished capacity and are being shut down by well level controls. Basically the system has one well providing water on a consistent basis. However, for the last 10-day period the sediment rate has increased, indicating that the well is struggling to meet pumping needs. We still experience decrease in pressure during periods of high demand (early mornings, evenings, weekends and holidays).

New owner Jerry Lendzion submitted paperwork for a rate raise to the Arizona Corporation Commission last month. The water company has not received a rate increase since 1994 and suffered over a $15,000 loss last year. Mr. Lendzion is caught in a "catch 22." Because of negative operation revenues, the corporation commission refuses to approve the debt (loan) necessary for planned improvements for increased water production and delivery. There is an emergency process to expedite the rate increase. Last week, Mr. Lendzion contacted the person assigned to the application, Gordon Fox, Manager, Financial Analyst, Utilities Division, AZCC. Mr. Fox was leaving on vacation and refused assistance. He referred Mr. Lendzion to John Lawrence, Auditor, Utilities Division, AZCC. Mr. Lawrence refused to grant Mr. Lendzion the emergency process and was told he must go through regular channels. This may take six months or longer.

The loss of one more well will put the system at Level 4 or 5. CC Water Company does not own a tanker truck for hauling potable water. As water production/sales decrease, so does available revenue. Money may not be available or "approved" to increase water delivery in any form. A couple of summer rains, if they come, will not be enough to recharge the wells. This may be a long-term problem. A six-month wait for the rate increase, plus time to get approval and make improvements to the system may delay water level upgrades for up to a year or more.

CC Water Company serves approximately 170 customers. Except for about 10 water users, all customers have been conserving. Still, usage was up 250,000 gallons in June compared with June '01. Mr. Lendzion asked that I thank everyone for his or her continued understanding and conservation measures.

Pam Milhon, Onsite Manager Assistant, Christopher Creek Haven Water Company

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