Oro Valley town officials said water customers will pay slightly higher fees once water from the Central Arizona Project is pumped from the City of Tucson into the community sometime next year.
Oro Valley Water Utility Director Philip Saletta said fees won’t increase anytime soon, with the first phase of construction expected to start some time in October, and the completion date set for January of next year.
Saletta said water customers will see a rate increase of between 85 cents and $1.75 per month. However, any kind of increase would still have to be approved by the town council at a later date.
CAP water from the Tucson Water distribution system will be delivered to the Oro Valley Water distribution system at a connection point near Naranja and Shannon roads. Additional pumps and pipelines will have to be constructed as the first phase in the agreement. The first phase will cost the town $515,000.
In the long run, Saletta said using CAP water is the most cost-effective approach the town can take to keep up water levels in the aquifer.
The Town of Oro Valley started working with the City of Tucson in 2009 when it became obvious the town aquifer was being overused.
“We want to preserve and protect the aquifer,” said Saletta. “Bringing in renewable water reduces (the) needs of our groundwater aquifer. We are giving it a longer life.”
By using CAP water, the Town of Oro Valley will receive between 2,000 and 4,000 acre-feet of water per year, at a cost of $499.98 per acre-foot.
One acre-foot of water is equal to approximately 325,851.4 gallons.
According to the executive summary of the intergovernmental agreement approved by the Town Council on July 6, the Town of Oro Valley last year pumped 2.5 billion gallons of water, which is 685 million gallons more than the amount calculated in the annual sustainable rate study.
Saletta said despite conservation efforts, the town exceeded water-use expectations. Some of the excess use can be attributed to both residential and commercial growth, he said.
Saletta said the approved IGA saves the town money by reducing the amount paid to the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District. In addition, it complies with Assured Water Supply, which allows growth to continue in coordination with state water laws.
No matter what the reason, Saletta said the town has to replenish every drop of groundwater pumped.
Town officials said they are confident in the quality of the CAP water.