Arizona city spending millions to relieve water shortage

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WILLIAMS, Ariz. (AP) -- Williams is sinking millions of dollars into the ground to augment water supplies as low reservoir levels force restrictions on water use and keep the northern Arizona community from issuing new building permits.

Williams' latest move is to authorize spending up to $2.1 million to drill a new well at a site on city property north of Interstate 40, the Arizona Daily Sun reported.

That's after spending $2 million on an effort - unsuccessful so far - to resuscitate another well and $450,000 to put a long-abandoned well back in operation.

Williams' water woes come from several factors, including lack of winter moisture, well failures and aging infrastructure.

"Like any city, we need to be staying ahead of the curve instead of falling behind it. We should never be in a spot where we are, where we're maxed out in capacity," City Manager Brandon Buchanan said.

The City Council, Buchanan said, "is committed to breaking the cycle and getting us ahead of the game to where we need to be."

As of a year ago, a dry winter caused the city's reservoir levels to dwindle. At that time, the city had only one operating well and enough water to last 19 months.

The restrictions allow water to be used for only household necessities. Activities like washing cars or watering lawns are prohibited. Officials also don't allow the city to issue any new building permits.

The city's largest reservoir is only a third full. Two other sources are so low they're now untreatable, and another two have only small amounts of treatable water.

Together, the sources provide Williams with a 16- to 19-month supply of water, said Kyle Christiansen, Williams' public works director.

With a greater well capacity, the city could pump more water into its main reservoir to build up its surface reserves.

Mayor John Moore said water stability is vital.

"It's like a stack of cards," he said. "If you don't have water, you can't issue permits. You can't issue permits, you don't grow, and on and on."


Information from: Arizona Daily Sun,

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