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Thu, June 27

Prescott offers Wilhoit water access

CHINO VALLEY ‹ An Arizona Corporation Commission member may have come up with a way to provide a steady stream of safe drinking water temporarily to residents affected by the arsenic scare here.

Commissioner Kris Mayes said Wednesday that the City of Prescott is willing to sell potable water from its Chino Valley hydrant to the private water company that had been

issuing an unsafe product to customers.

Mayes said Prescott Mayor Rowle Simmons agreed late Tuesday afternoon to allow Wilhoit Water Co.-Yavapai Estates to access a Prescott fire hydrant located mere yards from Wilhoit's wells.

"The City of Prescott is willing to help these folks,"

Simmons said.

Mayes added that if Wilhoit Water Co. owner Robert Conlin buys the hydrant's water, the company's customers in Yavapai Estates and Antelope Valley Apartments would have immediate access to tap water that meets the federal government's arsenic standard.

A Wilhoit Water Co. spokesperson told The Daily Courier that Conlin was busy in meetings on Wednesday and unavailable for comment.

After a meeting of the Corporation Commission Wednesday in Phoenix, Mayes said all five commissioners reached a consensus that Conlin needs to forge an agreement with the City of Prescott by the close of business today at 5 p.m.

"We're expecting it to happen," Mayes said of the company making a deal with the City of Prescott for its water. "We're seeing more progress than two weeks ago, but we will continue to press to see that the company moves forward with arsenic remediation."

It could take three to four months, Mayes said, before arsenic remediation equipment is in place to treat the company's wells, thus necessitating the short-term solution. She added that the cost for arsenic treatment is not cheap, but that Wilhoit can pay for it in a variety of ways without hitting customers hard in the wallet.

"Some of the cost (for remediation) is paid for by customers, but it does not have to cause rate shock," Mayes said.

Wilhoit Water Co. and the commission ultimately may consider another temporary option, other than the hydrant, that entails a separate company hauling clean drinking water to the affected community.

The problem is that customers would have to fill their own water containers and still could not use their taps for consumption.

Contact the reporter at dcook@prescottaz.com

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