Pine Strawberry Recall Election Candidates Against The Recall

Candidates provide answers AGAINST the recall of four Pine Strawberry water district board members

Advertisement

Pine-Strawberry candidates answer water queries.

The Roundup asked the following same six questions of the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District board members Chairman Gary Sherlock, Treasurer Forrest McCoy and members James M. Richey and Wesley Suhr, who are slated for recall on March 11, and the candidates for their seats, Terry Schleizer, Michael Greer, Richard Dickinson and Ron Calderon.

Their answers are reproduced here unaltered as received by the Roundup.

Wes Suhr:

Please provide your best estimate of rate increases if the K2 well proves successful.

photo

Wes Suhr

PWC will recommend a rate increase based on the total cost of the K2 wells. ACC will determine a fair level of rate base, fair to the water user and to the water utility for making a profit on their investment. I'm in no position to guess what they will decide, but it will be reasonable.

Why is K2 the best site to drill a test well and what are the odds that it will provide a long-term water supply solution?

The K2 Site was considered the "best" because: 1) the site did not have to be purchased, 2) all necessary infrastructure was at or near the site, 3) the hydrogeologic potential is good. I don't deal in guessing at the "odds". Every well-drilling site has "the odds", but the K2 Site has a good possibility of providing a reliable source of water at reasonable cost.

The Arizona Corporation Commission received a brief following a Feb 15 hearing in which ACC Attorney Kevin Torrey presented his opinion that the PSWID board is within its legal authority in asking for the approval of the K2 agreement. Please explain why you think boards actions are either legal or illegal?

ACC has not ruled on the legality of the PSWID investment with the Joint Well Development Agreement. Its legal staff has made the decision that the investment is legitimate, and its business management/engineering staff has determined the K2 Project is appropriate. The Commissioners & the ALJ (administrative law judge) will make a final ruling, based on all of the evidence from all parties.

What do I think? I'm not a lawyer and for that reason the present Chair, and past Chair of PSWID, were both separately informed by the Gila County Attorney's Office that the anticipated transaction ($300,000 investment with PWC) was legitimate. Likewise, our PSWID counsel has said the same. I would not have worked on the K2 Project if I thought it was illegal!

Recall supporters claim the K2 test well price tag of $300,000 is too high. Please explain why you do or do not agree.

PSWID spent about half that amount on the 4-inch Strawberry Borehole which does not produce water, but has given us excellent data on our deep aquifer. This "price tag" is an exploratory investment of district property taxes to determine the depth and characteristics of the deep aquifer. This K2 test well is to be completed with an 8-inch casing and will be capable of producing water at what we hope will be a high sustained yield. No one knows what that yield will be until we get there, and that is true for any new well. If that yield proves to be moderate, PWC will drill another deep well to be the main producer.

Past PSWID expenditures have been used mainly for "studies." This is the first time in 11 years that PSWID has expended funds for the purpose of directly producing new water. If the deep aquifer below the K2 Site is productive, the $300,000 investment is very reasonable, especially as compared to the RCW alternative.

Do you feel the board addresses constituent concerns adequately during public meetings?

Yes, I do, to the extent it's possible with the PSWID Board required to follow the "Open Meeting Law". We have to stick to the meeting agenda, and only certain items on the agenda can be discussed. Therefore, we cannot discuss all questions from the public to the satisfaction of either the public or us. Generally, we try to answer requests for info after the meeting or on a one-to-one basis.

Some private well owners in Strawberry fear they will lose some of the water in their shallow aquifer wells to drainage into the K2 deep aquifer well. What is your position on this issue?

There are existing wells near the proposed K2 Site wells, all in the shallow or C-aquifer, most completed at 200-400 feet. The proposed K2 deep wells will have depths of over 1400 feet and will extract water from the deep or R-aquifer which has little hydraulic connection with the shallow aquifer. However, it is possible the planned K2 Well boreholes could penetrate fractures in the shallow aquifer, inducing sub-vertical gradient flow from the C-aquifer to "cascade" down the borehole. This possibility will be restricted or sealed by installing concrete grout between the borehole and the casing, or the annulus of the casing.

Jim Richey:

Please provide your best estimate of rate increases if the K2 well proves successful.

The cost of $1.3-million well will increase the rate by maybe $7.00/month, but this will be up to the Arizona Corporation Commission. The cost of $5.2 million condemnation process will be $35-100/month. Which is lower?

The condemnation will cost $1.5 million and three years of legal battles. The DWID will have both tax power and rate increase power by the Board of Directors of the new water company. The rate increase will not be controlled by the Arizona Corporation Commission.

The PSWID has the power of taxation for exploration only. PSWID is using funds that have been accumulated over many past years. No new taxes are needed. Also, you will be able control the rate increases with the ACC in place. Nothing is free.

Why is K2 the best site to drill a test well and what are the odds that it will provide a long-term water supply solution?

No cost of property

1. Location to the distribution system to Pine and Strawberry

2. Hydro Fault system at this location

3. Data from Bore Hole and Geo-Physical Survey

4. Larger static level of water then Pine because of elevation

5. Reduced operation cost because of down high flow

6. R-Aquifer flow

7. Tanks and system controls already on site

8. Odds- 75 percent at >150GPM -- 95 percent at<150GPM

The Arizona Corporation Commission received a brief following a Feb 15 hearing in which ACC Attorney Kevin Torrey presented his opinion that the PSWID board is within its legal authority in asking for the approval of the K2 agreement. Please explain why you think boards actions are either legal or illegal?

The ACC Attorney had a strong supporting legal opinion of the legal rights of the PSWID. This is an unbiased and non-political position. Also, this topic was discussed by two PSWID Chairman's with the Gila County Attorney that the Joint Development Agreement is constitutional before moving forward. Also, the PSWID and PWCo attorneys have concluded this agreement is constitutional.

The only attorneys that don't agree is Mr.Pugel's and Cindy Mack's. This has to do with previous interest into turning Pine into a town like Star Valley. Both have development and control interests greater in the community.

Also, some members of Gila County Development see the development of more towns as increases in the tax base. Therefore, push for purchasing Water Company.

Recall supporters claim the K2 test well price tag of $300,000 is too high. Please explain why you do or do not agree.

OK- $300,000 to solve the water problem. Or $5.2 million to solve the problem, which is lower. The RCW believes that problem is the utility company. They believe in slander and tactics that will get them into increase taxes and a large bond election that they lost a few years ago. More important that would like to increase water rates with no ACC control.

The facts are simple we have a water shortage and we have had them for many years. Look at the USGS Study. Look at the times we did not have water in the past summers.

The water company has been handicapped by those that believe we need to kick PWCo at the ACC. This has accomplished nothing over the last decade. They have not been successful because they are not on focus. The problem first is the water shortage, then the shortcomings of the water company. You can't solve the water problem without a reasonable dialogue with the water company. Also, anger and slander of good people in the community will not solve the problem.

Do you feel the board addresses constituent concerns adequately during public meetings?

Yes, we address the constituent concerns. And if they don't like the answer they will recall the four members of board even if all seven members unanimously voted for this agreement. - RCW has a clear negative tactic that is hard to work with. They didn't come to meets before because they believed that Hardcastle would not every work with anyone. Not true if you work the real problem and act reasonable.

The board and I have offered to help negotiate a water agreement between PWCo and Mr. Pugel. His answer, "my lawyer will do that." Check with ACC comments he has made. Mr. Pugel has tried to get out of CC&N which has the effect reducing water customers, which will increase the overall cost of water. So our water rates go up! How can you help the water users and get out of the CN&N at the same time?

Some commissioners (Specifically Kristin Mayes) at the ACC are completely political and don't really care about solving the water problem. Remove this commissioner and you will have a reasonable commission that will work on the communities' behalf. If she does not like the answer she causes seemingly important issues to come be reviewed so it causes a delay.

Mr. Pugel indicates to the public that he will give the water to the community. Then indicates that he will make available water after his five-acre project has enough water and will be happy to sell it at a reasonable rate. We don't even know how much water this well will produce because he does not make that data available. Mr. Pugel has applied for Gila County zoning changes for the property the Milk Ranch Well exists on and plans to development his property and other property across the street. He can't do this without getting out of the CC&N. Is this a special interest!

Some private well owners in Strawberry fear they will lose some of the water in their shallow aquifer wells to drainage into the K2 deep aquifer well. What is your position on this issue?

How many people will lose water when you turn on the Pugel well? Is it in the R-aquifer or the Pine Creek underground stream? Will the Natural Bridge dry up? He has only the minimum AWDR 40 feet of casing. The K2 test and production well will have over 900 feet of casing. Talk with the Hydrologist and experts on this point. How do you prove this to the non-hydrologist? You will never be able to do this. Fear is understandable. But- there are two PWCo C-aquifer wells next to the K2 well. You measure them. You will see the numbers after the test well is completed.

Just go into Pine Grocery Store (turn on the tape recorder) and you will see the fear being created at the expense of the community.

Finally comments- The current PSWID board members and I wish to have water in the summer and peace in the community. Vote the K2 Well so we can get on with other community issues.

I have been taught to forgive those that say untruths but I will likely be more cautious of taking on such important issue in the future. I would like to thank my new wife Vickie Randall Richey, a long time community resident for her support on this project. I love her and many in the community. We now need laughter.

Forest McCoy:

Please provide your best estimate of rate increases if the K2 well proves successful.

The resulting rate increase (for Pine residents only), if there is one, will be determined by extensive negotiations between Pine Water Co. and the ACC, once the well is drilled, and has been producing much needed water for Strawberry and Pine residents, for many months. Therefore, I cannot offer you any figures at this time.

I can, however, suggest that the rate increase, per 1,000 gallons of water used, if and when it becomes law, will be much less than the rate increase per 1,000 gallons of water, which we will experience, if and when the Rim Country Water Group succeeds in over-throwing the PSWID board (via this recall election) and then proceeds to purchase or condemn the current water company. My opinion here is based on the financial plan posted by those who planned this recall election and are advocating the purchase or condemnation of the current public monopoly.

Why is K2 the best site to drill a test well and what are the odds that it will provide a long-term water supply solution?

Thanks to a test bore hole drilled several years ago by PSWID in west Strawberry and recent studies of the K2 site, commissioned by both the PSWID and Pine Water Company, we are very sure that there is a new water source at 1400-1500 foot depth. The only way we will know this, however, is to drill a well and see. Of course you must remember, the only sure things today in Gila County are death, taxes and recall elections.

The Arizona Corporation Commission received a brief following a Feb 15 hearing in which ACC Attorney Kevin Torrey presented his opinion that PSWID is within its legal authority by asking for the approval of the K2 agreement. Please explain why you think boards actions are either legal or illegal?

The only reference to illegality here was raised by the Rim Water Group / Fred K. and it was a "red herring" to mislead the voting public in Pine & Strawberry. We had legal counsel who advised us that what we were doing was legal.

Recall supporters claim the K2 test well price tag of $300,000 is too high. Please explain why you do or do not agree.

Would they have said the same if the forecasted test well cost had been $ 3,000.00? The answer would have been "yes." It is not the $300,000 that they oppose, because we already have that amount of dollars available for this project, it is that they don't want

PSWID and Pine Water Co. to find deep aquifer water, because they would then have more difficulty in buying or condemning the water companies for their take-over and control of water supply in these two small towns.

Do you feel the board addresses constituent concerns adequately during public meetings?

Anyone who has something constructive to say during our PSWID meetings has been given a chance to speak. It is those citizens who want to rant and rave against Brooke Utilities and the management of that corporation, who are unhappy with the time they are given to disrupt the concerns and respective workload of the PSWID.

Some private well owners in pine fear they will lose some of the water in their shallow aquifer wells to drainage into the K2 deep aquifer well. What is your position on this issue?

Private well owners in Pine? Or are you referring to private well owners in Strawberry, where the K2 Well site exists? Please refer to my comments above concerning the planned 900-foot steel casing of the K2 well. I have not heard any comments in our public meetings by owners of shallow aquifer wells in Pine, concerned about seepage due to the drilling of the K2 well, but I have heard complaining by owners of deep aquifer wells in Pine and their supporters, who are concerned that we might just find some deep aquifer water at the K2 Site.

Gary Sherlock:

photo

Gary Sherlock

Please provide your best estimate of rate increases if the K2 well proves successful.

Perhaps question number one could be better understood if the process for a water company to add any capital expenditure to a rate base was explained, as I understand it:

First the company would submit the cost and all relevant items to Arizona Corporation

Commission (ACC) along with the supporting documentation as to why this is a usable asset to the company to furnish water to the community.

Second, ACC will review the information and make a decision as to the relevance and if the costs are reasonable, then they will move forward with a hearing.

If approved, they will decide how many years to spread the cost over and what amount can be added to the rate base. It is all up to ACC.

This is my understanding. For a better understanding you may want to ask the ACC.

(Sherlock otherwise said he concurs with Richey, Suhr and McCoy's answers.)

Click here to see the Pine Strawberry recall election candidates FOR the recall (Mar. 4)

Commenting has been disabled for this item.