Town Talk: Utilities Department’s oversight leads to saving time, money

Town of Prescott Valley logo. (Courtesy)

Town of Prescott Valley logo. (Courtesy)

The Prescott Valley Utilities Department is responsible for planning, managing, operating and maintaining the town’s water utilities (except for drainage and stormwater). These functions include drinking water, wastewater, reclaimed water and aquifer recharge.

This column will focus on the first two, and a later column on Water Resources will cover aquifer recharge and reclaimed water.

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Neil Wadsworth is the director for the Prescott Valley Utilities Department.

Town staff is responsible for the planning and oversight of the utility systems, while the daily operations and maintenance tasks are contracted to JACOBS, an international company that works locally with approximately 32 employees who operate the town’s water production wells, water tanks, wastewater treatment plant and sewer lift stations.

JACOBS also fixes water leaks, reads water meters and cleans the sewer system. The JACOBS staff and town personnel work together as a team to provide residents with seamless and efficient customer service.

This year, Prescott Valley is making improvements to its water system, which includes adding more fire hydrants to areas of town where better coverage is needed.

The town has been adding about a dozen new water hydrants each year for the past four years, and this year the focus area is Unit 20 on the east side of town.

The town now has a new water system flushing and cleaning technology that will clean sediment from water mains without wasting water. In the past, this could be accomplished only by flushing water out of fire hydrants and wasting it on the ground. This year, residents will see a truck and crew that will flush and filter the water, then return it back into the system without waste. This system is not yet widely used, and Prescott Valley is the first community in northern Arizona, and third in the state, to use this technology.

Prescott Valley is also continuing to work on planning and treatment options related to the PFAS chemicals that have been detected in some of the town’s wells. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is preparing to finalize the regulatory limits for PFAS (expected in March 2024) and the town is preparing to meet those requirements.

Although not as exciting (to most people), the town is carrying out several large planning projects related to its wastewater treatment plant, including a master planning study, filtration upgrades, and rehabilitation of the influent pumping station.

One area where Prescott Valley has implemented cost-saving technology is in the inspection and cleaning of sewer lines. The town is using SL-RAT, which is a sonar-based inspection system, to determine whether sewer lines need to be cleaned.

This allows the team to inspect a section of sewer line in under five minutes and move to the next section. If it is determined that cleaning is needed, the town’s Vactor sewer truck and crew are deployed to clean the line, which may take 30 to 60 minutes to accomplish. Previously, sewer cleaning was performed on a rotation schedule in which each sewer line was cleaned every two to three years, regardless of need. The town is now able to inspect all sewer lines in the system each year and pinpoint cleaning efforts to needed lines only. This new technology saves time and money and reduces wear and tear on the expensive Vactor truck.

Please contact the Utilities Department if you have any questions or visit our website at prescottvalley-az.gov.

Neil Wadsworth is the director for the Prescott Valley Utilities Department.


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