PRESS RELEASE | State Small Water Systems Fund Restarts Failed Drinking Water System for 60 Families in Need in the Three Points Area in Pima County, Arizona

PHOENIX (May 12, 2021) — The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) announced today that a water outage affecting 60 families, about 115 people, near Three Points in Pima County, Arizona, has been resolved and affected families now have a reliable source of healthy drinking water for the long term. At ADEQ’s recommendation, Wildflower Water Co-Op, the small public water system serving this community, received $18,000 from the Small Water Systems Fund administered by the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority (WIFA) to replace failed equipment and restore water service.

“We were between a rock and a hard place running out of water and without the financial means necessary to fix the water system,” said Paul Rivas, community member. “Without this Small Water Systems Fund grant, our families would not have the safe and reliable essential water we have today.”

On April 22, 2021, Wildflower Water Co-Op’s single well pump, which enables the system to provide the entire water supply for 60 families and their livestock, experienced a complete failure. As of April 25, the community and water co-op had exhausted its resources and had no funds available for a temporary water supply nor to purchase and install the necessary equipment to restart the water system.

“With reserves of the community’s water supply estimated to last only 48 hours, the situation was dire and required urgent action,” said ADEQ Water Quality Division Director Trevor Baggiore. “Many thanks go to Tucson Water and Thim Utility for helping address the immediate need for water. The Small Water Systems Fund is the last resort for helping water systems in Arizona and ADEQ’s goal is to ensure that every water system serving Arizonans is equipped with both the technical and financial resources necessary to serve their community.”

Immediately upon learning of the situation from the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality (PDEQ), ADEQ took swift action to address both the pressing public health concern of access to water and the need to restore the integrity of the water system for the community.

  • ADEQ and Wildflower secured an immediate water supply from Thim Utility and Tucson Water, which generously provided hauled water for the system. 
  • On April 30, 2021, WIFA approved ADEQ’s recommended Small Drinking Water System Fund grant so the system could purchase and install the necessary equipment.
  • The community’s water service was fully restored on May 7, 2021. 
  • ADEQ will work with the co-op to conduct a full system and asset evaluation to ensure proper operation and maintenance of the system so that the community continues to have a safe and reliable water supply.

Successful resolution of this water emergency involved the collaboration of community members, Wildflower Water Co-Op, Southwestern Utilities, PDEQ, Tucson Water, Thim Utility and WIFA.

“This community water emergency in Three Points underscores the importance of the Small Water Systems Fund in ensuring that Arizona’s rural communities have access to healthy drinking water,” said Representative Joel John (LD-4). “The $18,000 Small Water Systems Fund grant to Wildflower Water Co-Op was critical to the well being of these families.”

The Small Water Systems Fund administered by WIFA is a critical tool used as a last resort to support water systems in need of water quality upgrades and infrastructure repairs when all other funding options have been exhausted. In Arizona, 95 percent of the more than 1,500 public water systems are small water systems. Many of these systems  have an ongoing significant need for technical and infrastructure development assistance. Learn more: ADEQ Drinking Water Capacity Development — 2020 Triennial Report to the Governor | View Report > 

Contact

ADEQ Public Information Officer | 602-540-8072 (cell) | Email >