After reviewing test results from a civil engineer and a hydrogeologist, the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District board voted unanimously on Jan. 20 to complete the purchase of the Milk Ranch Well.
The board had previously agreed to purchase the Milk Ranch Well from owners Ray Pugel and Robert Randall for $400,000 and 50 residential and two commercial meter hookups. Currently, a residential meter hookup costs $3,200 per meter.
The district can move immediately to hook up the well even if it hasn’t firmed up financing, thanks to a clause in the purchase contract that allows the district to pay interest-only to the well’s owners until it can pay the full balance, said board chairman Gary Lovetro at Thursday’s meeting.
The board originally agreed to buy the well last May, but delayed final signing pending completion of various studies on the amount of sand in the water and costs of hooking the well to the current water system.
At Thursday’s meeting, Tucson geologist Chuck Dickens told the board his tests showed the well “could be pumped at a maximum rate of about 85 gpm and still produce groundwater that would exhibit acceptable concentrations of sand and turbidity.”
The well will ultimately add 120,000 gallons of water per day to the PSWID system.
Dickens called Milk Ranch a “good well,” saying it draws water from a deep aquifer system known as the Martin Formation. Most of the district’s other wells are shallow.
As for hookup costs, Verde Engineering’s Ralph Bossert estimated the cost at $246,309.
That means the district could ultimately spend nearly $1 million on the Milk Ranch Well by the time it produces water, which includes $150,000 for a pump burned out during a testing period and other needed repairs, said district officials.
The PSWID purchased the well without an appraisal, which has raised concerns from some residents and former board member Bill Haney.
Haney said the purchase should depend on having an appraisal. At the May board meeting, he cast the lone dissenting vote on the purchase, based on the lack of a current appraisal. Haney later resigned from the board over a variety of disputes.
In other board action on Thursday, Lovetro explained to the audience the recent decision to apply the new water rates adopted back in August to all bills due in January — even if the water was consumed in November and December. That decision had water users in the two towns crying foul and asking how water used in 2010 can be charged at 2011 rates.
Lovetro Thursday acknowledged an error in communication, but said the district had to apply the rate to the January bills to meet its budget.