Flooding, wells and wastewater are becoming critical issues for Kingman as federal and state regulations increase, the City Council was told Thursday.
"We got the first red flag nitrate levels from monitoring wells and that triggered meetings with ADEQ (Arizona Department of Environmental Quality)," Kingman Public Works director Jack Kramer said during a special meeting about the city's growth.
"Water quality, sewer requirements and changes in treatment plants are coming."
Kramer said the downtown wastewater treatment plant has been targeted by the state for some time.
It is located in a waterway with no additional land for upgrading or replacing the facility.
The city budget has included $2.6 million in the sewer budget for the past four years while discussion have gone on with ADEQ.
"The treatment facility problem brings the city to the issue of funding water, sewer and flood control systems during a period of more rapid growth," City Manager Roger Swenson said.
"Anyone can drop a straw in our water aquifer and tap the city water source."
He said more than 20 different organizations are involved with water issues and sources in Mohave County and any one of them can affect Kingman's long-term water source.
In addition, environmental regulations emphasize control of floodwater because parking lots and streets send pollutants into the washes during heavy rain.
The Hilltop Wastewater Treatment Plant has higher nitrate levels in effluent water during summer months.
Kramer said it is only a matter of time until ADEQ requires treatment of the wastewater to make it reusable for recharge or irrigation of golf courses.
Sewer users are now paying off the loan that built the Hilltop facility, which is north of Kingman west of Route 66 beyond the Kingman Airport.
The loan has nine years left.
"Who should pay for sewer and water costs ahead of us," Swenson asked the council.
"Current users paid for the current facilities.
Do new homeowners and commercial users who came on later need to buy into current facilities?"
Keeping floodwater in retention ponds in newer residential subdivisions was discussed.
Commercial developers are now required to build retention facilities.
The council also discussed water conservation.
"When do desert dwellers need to become aware of the limited water supply?" Swenson asked.
"Or do we have an excellent water source in our aquifer and say 'Why worry?' "
ADEQ has recently asked the city planning staff why subdivisions are still being approved to use septic tanks.
Sometime in the future, all homes will be required to be on a sewer system, city officials said they've heard from state regulators.
The City Council considered when sewer connections for new construction should become a requirement.
ADEQ officials have told the city it should require connections when sewer service is available within 1,500 feet of a new home.
Current policy is 500 feet.
Another policy question was the requirement that new water users also be required to connect to the sewer system.
The service area boundaries are about the same.
Councilwoman Monica Gates said allowing building without sewer hook-ups, even on large lots, encourages fringe building.
If sewer hook-ups are required, it is assumed builders will build closer to current sewer lines, she added.
Kingman community development director Dennis Roberts said sewer requirements would encourage more density in new residential development and more in-fill.
Councilman Jim Baker asked whether the policy changes would avoid future problems and got a "yes" from staff members.
The council directed staff members to bring additional information about policy alternatives, costs and impact on residents and builders to the council for discussion.
The council also discussed staff retention and compensation; equity and structure of city fees for water, sewer and sanitation services; city building standards; the planning and zoning decision process; and how to finance streets and underpasses.
A joint meeting with the Kingman Planning and Zoning Commission to discuss the growth issues and policies will be scheduled.