Making Infrastructure Investments Last: Why Prescott Voted To Ban Plastic Drinking Water Pipes

By Cathey Rusing

There are few things in life that are certain, but one of them here in my hometown of Prescott, AZ is the fact that most of our buildings are built on hard rock like granite, making the resilience of our buried infrastructure even more important than it may be in other locations who don’t have to deal with such conditions.

I have become very knowledgeable about our topography because, as a member of the Prescott City Council, I have had to vote on projects that must work well in our conditions. In fact, the condition of our drinking water infrastructure is one of the reasons I actually decided to run for Council. A few weeks before declaring my candidacy, I visited a neighbor’s home that sustained significant damage from a ruptured plastic PVC water pipe. Despite past efforts to repair and preserve the pipe, it finally burst and led to substantial damage to their home.  However, they shouldn’t have been in that situation in the first place. At that point, I saw it as my duty to maintain and provide durable infrastructure for the public welfare of Prescott for generations to come.

After I was elected to the Council, I continued advocating for a better and more cost-effective solution to our water infrastructure problems. These kinds of projects can be very expensive – even with state and federal grants and low-interest loans available to municipalities and water system operators. Given the expense, and disruption that comes from upgrading our water infrastructure, it is really important that we plan for and make decisions for the long-term. 

Take my city as an example.  Today, there are more than 46,000 people living in Prescott, and we’ve grown by 16.28 percent since 2010, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Given how great a place Prescott is to live, we should only expect future growth. That’s wonderful, but we must properly plan and think about where we might be in a generation or two to ensure that the infrastructure we invest in today will support and help us manage this future growth. 

As I delved into infrastructure research, I learned about different kinds of pipe materials. One of the most important lessons is that not all pipes are created equally, and there are many variations based on how they’re made, what material is used, or even what the soil looks like where the pipe will be installed. The plastic pipes that we have running under much of Prescott may have been cheaper to initially purchase when past city leaders chose to use them, but they crack more easily, don’t last as long, and can actually lose some of their ability to handle pressure at higher temperatures in the soil or even melt if exposed to high temperatures from a fire. 

We’ve also seen pictures on social media of melted plastic trash cans and mailbox stands from the Arizona heat. Imagine the pipe carrying your drinking water melting or being deformed in that same way. A recent California wildfire melted a 7.5-mile stretch of plastic pipe that was a major conveyance for a drinking water system. We need pipes that will last for generations, be environmentally friendly, and resilient enough to handle both our rocky terrain and the challenges tossed at us from prolonged extreme drought and rising temperatures.

I know it sounds like we’re looking for a unicorn, but as I’ve learned, there a pipe material that can do just that: it’s made from a material called ductile iron. Through my research, I learned that water mains made from this material have a service life of 90 to 100 years – that’s nearly three times as long as PVC – is made from recycled steel and iron, and uses less energy to move water. 

Since I was elected, I’ve worked with my fellow Councilmembers to explore the cost benefits and return on investment we could realize as a city if we stopped using plastic pipes and switched to ductile iron. 

After a valuable Council study session, substantive discussions with my colleagues, and important input from our Public Works Director, we unanimously voted to update our General Engineering Standards in a way that will balance costs without compromising the integrity of project materials. This change will save our taxpayers millions of dollars over the long-term and give residents peace of mind that we’re using materials in infrastructure projects that are designed to last.  In fact, it also puts Prescott in good company with over two dozen communities in Arizona like Phoenix and Tempe that have made similar decisions to exclude plastic pipes from their drinking water systems. 

Infrastructure has always been vitally important to the success of Prescott. The process that we underwent to upgrade our engineering standards can be a model for other projects and even other cities in a similar situation. We did our research, put in the hard work to ensure that our drinking water will remain clean, affordable, and accessible for generations. We want Prescott to set the “gold standard” for infrastructure and hope to apply these lessons to other projects to aim for a bright future for generations to come! 

Cathey Rusing is a city councilmember in Prescott, AZ.

Reception honoring Mark Brnovich

Mark Brnovich- skinny horizontal logo

You are invited to a Happy Hour Reception honoring

Mark Brnovich

Republican Candidate for Attorney General

 

Hosted By

Nancy & Malcolm Barrett

Susan & Malcolm Barrett, Jr

Susan Cohen

Michelle & Brad Fain

Mike Fann

Shary & Bill Feldmeier

Pam Jones & David Hess

Nettie & John Lamerson

Andie & Greg Lazzell

Lucy & Rex Mason

Joan & Tommy Meredith

Myra & Stephen Nathenson

Billie & Bob Orr

Darlene & Don Packard

Phyllis & Jerry Robinson

Sue & Steve Rutherford

Christa & Rowle Simmons

Jette & John Stevens

June & Tom Thurman

 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

5:00 – 7:00 PM

 

Jersey Lilly Saloon

116 S Montezuma Street

Prescott, AZ

Suggested Contribution $50 per person

Please RSVP to Jenna Brouk at jenna@engagingco.com or 480-226-7596

http://www.mark4az.com/

Prescott Valley Mayor Skoog and Vice-Mayor Lasker Endorse Congressman Paul Gosar in CD-4

Prescott Valley Mayor Skoog and Vice-Mayor Lasker Endorse Congressman Paul Gosar for Re-Election in AZ-4

Prescott Valley, Arizona–Today, Mayor Harvey Skoog and Vice-Mayor Patty Lasker, Town of Prescott Valley, announced their joint endorsement of Congressman Paul Gosar’s re-election to the newly created Fourth Congressional District. The Town of Prescott Valley is located in Arizona’s First District which Congressman Gosar currently represents but after redistricting will be in the new Fourth District.

Mayor Skoog and Vice Mayor Lasker said, “We are proud to jointly give our endorsement to Paul Gosar, for his re-election in the newly created Congressional District Four. He is a proven leader in Washington and has always been available to address the concerns of the citizens. We look forward to his continued service.”

In response to the joint endorsement, Dr. Gosar stated, “I appreciate Mayor Skoog and Vice Mayor Lasker’s support of my re-election efforts. The commitment that Mayor Skoog and Vice Mayor Lasker have given to serving the residents of Prescott Valley with diligence and dedication is commendable. I have enjoyed working with both of them throughout my first term in congress and look forward to the opportunity to continue to do so.”

Mayor Skoog was first elected as Mayor of Prescott Valley in 1993 and served through 1998. Harvey later ran again and won the mayoral seat in November 2004 and has since won re-election twice. In July 2010 Mayor Skoog was appointed by Governor Jan Brewer to the Homeland Security Senior Advisory Committee for the State of Arizona. He also has serves on the Arizona League of Cities & Towns Executive Board and as the Chairman of the Greater Arizona Mayor’s Association.

Vice-Mayor Patty Lasker was sworn in as a Prescott Valley Town Council member in June 2009. Prior to her election Lasker was a nurse, small business owner and investment advisor. She retired to Prescott Valley in 2005. She graduated from the Citizen’s Academy and is one of the founders of the Prescott Valley Old Town Board.

Congressman Paul Gosar D.D.S. was elected in 2010 to serve Rural Arizona. Paul and his wife, Maude, have been small business owners for over 25 years and are the proud parents of three children. Gosar has focused his first term on bringing jobs back to the district, reforming health care, including the repeal of ObamaCare and reining in government spending. For more information, visit his website at www.gosar4congress.com

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AZVoterGuide.com Now Includes City Election Update

Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) released the first edition of the 2011 City Elections Voter Guide on azvoterguide.com today. This non-partisan, free resource provides you with straightforward answers from the candidates about where they stand on critical issues for the August 30 election.

CAP surveyed every mayoral and city council candidate in Phoenix, Tucson, and Prescott to find out their positions on issues that they are likely to address if elected. The answers have been compiled in one place to make it simple for you to be an informed voter this year. Candidates also were able to include comments on their surveys, which can be downloaded at azvoterguide.com.

For thirteen years, CAP has surveyed individuals running for office in Arizona to provide you, the voter, with the information you need for upcoming elections. During the 2010 election season, CAP reached more than 500,000 people with this important resource.

Candidates who have not yet submitted their survey answers still have the opportunity to respond and have their answers included in the next edition. The contact information for those candidates is currently included in the Voter Guide. If you would like to know where those candidates stand, please contact them and ask them to respond to CAP’s Voter Guide survey. You can access the survey here.

City elections can have a significant impact on all Arizonans. It’s imperative for all Arizonans to register to vote, discover where the candidates stand, and then vote their values on August 30.

For more information, visit http://www.azvoterguide.com.