Friday, March 14, 2008

Scottsdale Update

...On the TCE/Arizona American Water (AAWC) front -

I attended a presentation from the City of Scottsdale put on by Suzanne Grendahl and Art Nunez of the City of Scottsdale (previously mentioned here) regarding the City's operation of the Central Groundwater Treatment Facility (CGTF) on the northwest corner of Pima and Thomas. The impetus for the presentation was concerns about the likelihood of a CGTF-based repeat of the incidents at the Arizona American-operated Miller Road Treatment Facility (MRTF) (background here and here).

I can say that, based on the presentation, while a failure such as that which occurred at MRTF is still possible at CGTF (equipment failures are always possible, no matter how well designed and maintained that equipment), the systems that the City of Scottsdale has in place make it exceedingly unlikely that such a failure would go undetected, such as happened at MRTF for more than 16 hours.

Not only is the site physically staffed 10 - 12 hours per day, seven days a week, the site is subject to ongoing remote computer monitoring (SCADA) during the off-hours and at least one physical walk-through by a city water treatment operator during the night.

Definitely an improvement on AAWC's procedures, which allowed a failure to go undetected from 2:30 p.m. on one day until after 6:30 a.m. the next.

- In addition to this info about the control systems at CGTF, Ms. Grendahl and Mr. Nunez briefly covered a planned improvement project at the facility. It won't affect TCE remediation; it's just intended to reduce the hardness of the water from the facility into alignment with that available in the rest of the city. The City has tentatively scheduled an open house at the site on April 8, 2008 for 6:00 p.m.

For more info, contact Suzanne Grendahl at sgrendahl[at] or 480-312-8719.

- Lastly (for now :) ) on the TCE/AAWC issue, on Tuesday night the Scottsdale City Council will hear the results of a study they ordered City Staff to compile on possible options for water service to the 1400+ Arizona American Water customers in Scottsdale.

Those options will include maintaining the current system, with the City working with AzAm Water to improve service to the company's Scottsdale customers, purchasing the Scottsdale part of AAWC's system, or working with the Town of Paradise Valley to purchase the entire AAWC system in the affected area.

Each of those options has its costs and benefits; the "highlight" of those costs is that the estimated value of AAWC's operation is in excess of $50 million.

That could be a tough nut to get past the Scottsdale taxpayers/voters during an election year.

...In other, more election-related Scottsdale news, there is a group called Height and Density, that was formed to fight Council approval of a high-density, high-height development project, the Hanover Project. HAD is working on collecting enough signatures to force the Council's decision to a referendum.

The Hanover Project is helmed by Eric Kenney of Hanover RS Limited Partnership from Texas. They've formed a counter group, Citizens for Smart Growth. That counter group has reported two major expenditures thus far - $10K to retain legal counsel and more than $7700 to hire a signature gathering firm, Derrick C. Lee's Campaign Finance Co. LLC, aka Lee Petitions.

That's where it gets interesting. Turns out that Lee Petitions does more than collect signatures; they try to intimidate and suppress those who dare to oppose their clients.

Lee Petitions has a colorful history, including fraudulent signatures (AZ, CO, and MT) and heavy involvement with Nathan Sproul, the man who would be an Arizona version of Karl Rove.

One of the other organizations involved with the Hanover Project in Scottsdale? Technical Solutions, the lobbying firm owned by erstwhile Republican Congressional candidate in CD5, Susan Bitter Smith.

Guess she has a decision to make, if she really wants to win the Republican nomination in CD5 - respect the voters in the district, or keep her industry clients happy.

If you have time, money, want to sign HAD's petition, or just despise bullies as much as I do, contact Tom Giller at 480-994-1181.

...At last night's meeting of COGS, I heard about another candidate entering the race for City Council, but I haven't been able to confirm it as yet. Another candidate would balance the apparent non-candidacy of Richard Mueller. Mr. Mueller has filed organizational paperwork but has yet to exhibit any real activity, including responding to emails from me and MSM representatives seeking to learn about his candidacy.


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