Oak Creek Water District
Oak Creek Water was formed July 25, 1953. The water system was installed to supply water to the property owners within the Oak Creek Development boundaries. The service area includes the area bounded by Highway 89A on the north, the airport mesa on the south, the Yavapai County line to the east and Sunset Drive on the west, approximately 1 square mile.
Since then, the distribution lines have been extended, water production capability maintained and increased to maintain an adequate supply of water to the members in the area of service certificated and regulated by the Utilities Division of the Arizona Corporation Commission.
At the first recorded annual meeting in 1958, 4 officers were elected who served on the board of directors with 3 directors at large. The minimum water rate was $2.50 for 1,500 gallons. In 1966, the minimum rate was increased to $4.50.
Well #1 on Oak Creek Boulevard was drilled in 1948. On the same street, Well #2 was put into operation in October 1964. In 1978, Well #3 was drilled next to Well #2.
In the later 1980s, the original 2 & 4" steel water mains on View Drive, Inspirational Drive, Oakcreek Boulevard, Birch Boulevard and Willow Way were replaced with 6" PVC mains with Ductile iron fittings.
A concrete storage tank was built on Table Top Mountain shortly after the first well was drilled. On the North side of the hill of Airport Mesa, a 60,000 gallon tank went into service in July 1975. In March 1980, another 60,000 gallon tank and a 5,000 gallon pressure system became operational. A wall and fence were built to keep livestock from the area. An 84,000 gallon storage tank was constructed at the top of the Hill in 1982 to supply the increased demand for water at the airport and new lodge. In 1993, a 150,000-gallon storage tank was constructed at the Hillside location and put into use with the 2 existing 60,000gallon tanks.
In 1963, there were 86 water meters. Five years later, 11 users were added when the Saddlerock Water System was incorporated with Oak Creek Water Co. The system continued to grow.
During the 1970s, our water rates were among the lowest in Arizona. Gross receipts for the fiscal year 1971-1972 were $14,000.
In 1974, the annual membership meeting approved a motion to apply for a permanent rate increase with the Arizona Corporation Commission. But many hurdles were in the path. The ACC maintained that our books were not in order relating to financial reports. An accountant, Stephen Huson was hired.
In 1979 the Geological Survey measured the water level in Well #1, which was drilled in 1948, and found it to be the same as reported in the original driller's notes.
The Arizona Corporation Commission approved rate changes to begin February 1, 1985. They were $7.00 for the first 1,000 gallons and $1.85 for each 1,000 gallons thereafter.
In 1987, OCWC purchased 30 feet of land from the Forest Service to the south of the tank lot. Maps of the water system were begun. The property taxes rose dramatically.
In 1988, the 39 year old concrete storage tank developed cracks and was removed.
On June 19, 1990 tax exempt status as a Nonprofit Cooperative Corporation was granted by the IRS. The same year, the company purchased a computer and printer for a computerized billing system.
A new pump was installed in Well #2 in 1991. The City installed sewers in our water service area. By 1993, all water mains were a minimum of 6".
In 1995, the position of manager became full time. In the fall of the year, OCWC rented its own office in Plaza 777 behind Steve Huson's office.
In January 1997, attempts were made to install a larger pump in order to increase the pumping capacity of Well #1. A cave-in of rock occurred at 430'. A well driller was called to remove the blockage. At 450', a metal casing was struck, bent and proved impossible to remove. Well #1 was capped. The decision was made to drill another well on the site, but the request was denied by ADEQ because of a septic tank in operation within 100' of the proposed well site. This hastened the search for another location to drill Well #4. A suitable location was found on Sunset Boulevard, and an easement obtained from the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The well was drilled in 1997, tested, approved and put into service in 1998.
In 1998, the City of Sedona granted a temporary use permit, allowing us to plan for and build an office/storage facility at our Well #1 site on Oak Creek Blvd.
The sales for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1998 were $198,199.
Construction of the new office/storage building at 90 Oak Creek Blvd. began in the fall of 1999, with Sitts & Co. as the contractor. There were many unanticipated costs to this project as it is a commercial building in a residential neighborhood. The city engineer made changes to our building plans, including a parapet roof, because it is a commercial building. The Planning and Zoning Commission required that the parapet walls be removed and the walls be constructed according to the design originally approved by them. After many meetings, discussions and considerations by the Board of Directors, it was finally agreed to remove the parapets and reconstruct the roof with the city paying 60% of the costs of these changes.
Finally, on August 24, 2000, we received an occupancy permit from the City and moved into the new facility. The total cost from start to finish was $170,292.38. This figure includes the removal of existing structure and accumulated materials from the lot, design plans, City permit fees, site grading, wall surrounding the lot, building and fixtures, contractor’s costs, paved parking, landscaping, mailbox and payment box and other related costs.
In 2001, we applied for and received a rate increase. We hired John Byrne, who retired from the Arizona Corporation Commission, as a consultant. We filed our application on June 1st and received a decision on November 8th, to be effective December 1st. The monthly usage charge no longer includes 1,000 gallons. The commodity rates per 1,000 gallons are tiered, $1.73 for 0-4000 gallons, $2.12 for 4,001-50,000 gallons and $2.39 for over 50,000 gallons. The service establishment fee and the NSF check charge were raised considerably and a $5.00 late fee was added.
Since then, two more rate cases with the ACC were held to keep up with the costs of supplying safe drinking water to the community, fire flow was increased with a new 116,000 gallon tank and main line upgrades, and computer upgrades were made to maintain an efficient billing, accounting and mapping system. The current rates are now $1.97 for 0-4,000 gallons, $3.60 for 4,001-10,000 gallons and $4.16 for over 10,000 gallons for residential service. The service establishment fee is $35, NSF Check fee is $25 and the late fee is now $10.
In July 2019, we circulated a petition among customers seeking their support in order to become a district. We obtained 575 signatures out of 875 parcels in our service area. This equated to 67%, far above the states 51% requirement. About 90% of our customers were in favor of the district and thus improving the company and its services. Becoming a district will allow us to move from under the A.C.C as a company and into a special taxing district of Yavapai County. It will allow for more eligibility for grants and below market loans, exemption from real and personal property taxes, rate increases will cost less than through the A.C.C and board meetings will be open to the public.
In August 2020, the A.C.C approved Oak Creek Water to become a district and transfer of assets, following the approval from Yavapai County earlier in the year. As of August 18, 2020 Oak Creek Water officially became a district and changed their name to Oak Creek Water Domestic Water Improvement District.
Soon, we will see nearly $8 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a series of projects. Of that amount, $5,660,000 is a grant that does not have to be repaid, with another $2,325,000 approved for a 40-year, low interest loan. This funding will be used to install an arsenic treatment plant, repairing and repainting tanks, and also replacing 7 miles of water mains. This project must be completed by May of 2023.