Dec 142012

By Naomi Hatch
Taylor Town Engineer Stu Spaulding made a presentation to the town council last week concerning the water and wastewater generator system in response to a request made by Councilman Shawn Palmer at the council’s November meeting.
“A town without water… is a terrible thing. A town with sewer that’s running to its lowest point, which would be the creek, would be a terrible thing,” said Palmer.
Spaulding said the town has four wells and one lift station, and Palmer was correct that the lift station is in the lowest part, near the Silver Creek. He went on to explain that the sewer system has four hours’ storage, but after three hours, would start overflowing.
The engineer noted that the plan is to go first with the generator to the lift station and empty it, then go to each of the wells to start them. He noted there is not a loop in the water system, so they could not isolate the area that has an electric problem, for example, if lightning hit it.
Spaulding said the town has had a large expense in putting soft starts in the wells because the hard start tears up the system. “We now have all quick disconnects on,” he said, noting they are finishing the last one.
The town has one generator that they have been able to get geared up and put on a trailer, and that generator is capable of starting a well and the lift station.
In response to a question posed by Palmer, Spaulding explained that the generator runs off of propane.
Spaulding explained that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Guard have water trucks avail-able for towns in trouble, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will come in and bring trucks.
Mayor Fay Hatch commented that if the state needed generators, Taylor would be pretty far down on the list.
“On a personal basis, there are some cultures who actually think as I do, that one should have a little bit of storage of water and food in their house,” said Spaulding.
Palmer expressed interest in creating a hybrid system, explaining, “There’s a lot of philosophy about the grid going down. It’s not just a doomsday claim,” he said, noting that there is much to back the claim that we have an unstable economy.
Spaulding said that it would cost about $4 million to have the town’s electric systems on solar, noting, “We would have a high initial cost, but low secondary cost.”
Mayor Hatch said he felt the wells could hook up to solar, but he wasn’t sure the lift station would because it has two motors in it.
There was discussion on the situation and Councilman Alan Ramage asked about the loop system.
“If the electric system isn’t looped and a break occurs or something happens, then everything downstream is shut off,” said Spaulding, noting that Arizona Public Service Co. representatives have said “the chances of loop-ing Taylor’s system with power is like zero right now; they don’t have any resources to do for our community.”
“We found several months ago in administrative changes that things we were told were in, were not,” said Town Manager Eric Duthie. “We have found that we have not had the operational generators that we thought we did, that we were told we did.”
A picture of one generator with dozens of wires cut and hanging was presented, and it was noted that there were no markings on the wires.
Duthie said that this was discovered in the last several months and they no longer use that individual. “It’s an expensive proposition that we’re having to go in and fix things that we thought were working and are not,” he said.
The first priority was to get the large generator up and running, which has taken a lot of money. “It’s up and running,” said Duthie.
Palmer suggested they look at a large storage of propane since the generator runs on propane.
Spaulding explained that they have been working with propane companies to be the number one priority in case of an emergency, and they have trucks that will haul propane for the town.
The town engineer also noted that they have taken the mayor out to look at things and they are getting better prepared for emergencies.
“We have all those considerations in mind as we move forward,” said Duthie in response to Palmer’s concerns. “Those are things that we’ve looked at as a group for a long time.”