Valley Pioneers plans to ease water woes with loan financing five wells

Five high-production wells may soon end the struggle for water that has plagued the Valley Pioneers Water Co.

for years.

"It looks like it is going to happen," general manager John Clayton said of a $1.3 million loan to purchase wells and expand the company's existing water system.

Clayton, the general manager of Valley Pioneers Water Company, Inc.

said he recently received a verbal commitment from USDA Rural Development regarding the loan.

A $1.2 million loan must be spent before a grant for $100,000 is issued.

The money will be used to purchase five wells and install two booster stations and water transmission lines to Mineral Park, and pay for expansion of the current water system.

The wells, booster stations and water lines will be purchased from Phelps-Dodge Corp., a mining company based in Phoenix.

Located south of state Highway 68 near Colorado Road, the wells have supplied water to Equitorial Mineral Park - formerly the Duval Mine - since 1974.

Part of the agreement reached with Phelps-Dodge was to continue to supply water for the mine, Clayton said.

The 1200- to-1400-feet deep wells are on the low side of the valley on the northern end of the Sacramento aquifer.

The booster stations will pump the water uphill 15 miles from the wells to Equitorial Mineral Park, which currently uses only about 350-acre feet of water a year for copper mining.

The mine is currently the only customer using water from the wells, but once the purchase goes through it will benefit all 4,000 Valley Pioneers water customers, Clayton said.

The town of Chloride will also benefit from the new wells.

A meeting between The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, the Chloride Domestic Water Improvement District, Valley Pioneer Water Co.

and the Rural Development Assistance Corp.

was held May 16 to decide how to best help the town with its water problems.

A tentative plan calls for water to be pumped from Valley Pioneer Water Co.

wells in Golden Valley to a storage tank 11 miles away.

The water could then be hauled to Chloride until a water pipeline can be put in place.

The Chloride Domestic Water Improvement District would need to apply for a grant through USDA Rural Development to pay for the water tank and six miles of pipeline to Chloride.

Clayton said he began looking into expansion of the water system five years ago.

A loan from Rural Development for drilling a well has been in place for about a year and a half.

"Instead of drilling one new well, we now have five existing wells," he said.

"Maybe this will solve our problems."

After documents are signed the first week of June there will be a 30-day due-diligence period for inspection of the wells and booster station sites and 30 days for escrow, although things could go faster, Clayton said.

Valley Pioneers Water Co.

is one of the few non-profit, privately owned water system corporations in Arizona.