Goodyear has big goals for growth, and it will need water to facilitate that growth. That’s why it broke ground early this month on a new water treatment facility that will expand the city’s water capacity and help ensure the city’s water remains sustainable as the city expands.
“We would not be able to grow without water,” said Goodyear Vice Mayor Bill Stipp. “We all know how important it is to us as a community, and investing in Goodyear’s water future has been very important to the councils of the past, but it’s certainly very important to this city council.”
Goodyear plans to increase its population nearly tenfold by the end of the century. At a population of just under 80,000 now, the city is aiming for a build-out population of 760,000 by 2085.
The new plant, at 4980 S. 157th Ave., will provide for the city’s projected growth through at least 2045, said Director of Public Works Javier Setovich.
All of Goodyear’s water currently is supplied from groundwater. The new plant, which is scheduled to start operating by December 2021, will be the first time the city incorporates surface water into its supply when its completed.
“This is really a pivot point that is going to make everything in the future possible,” Mr. Setovich said. “… And the city has great things and forcing itself to be a place where development can take place.”
Mr. Setovich said the city’s daily water use fluctuates from about 8 million gallons per day during the winter to a peak of about 11 million gallons per day in the summer. When the new plant opens in late 2021, it will treat about 8 million gallons per day. The plant will then expand its operations to treat up to 16 million gallons per day by 2031 or 2032.
The city will receive its base water supply from the new plant and receive supplemental groundwater based on need.
The surface water will come from the Colorado River. Goodyear has an allocation of 16,000 acre feet, or one square acre of water a foot deep, per year through the Central Arizona Project.
“Until today, we have not had a way of getting that water here to the city,” Mr. Setovich said.
The water will get to Goodyear through a first-of-its-kind deal between Goodyear and the Salt River Project to transport the CAP water through the SRP canals to Avondale, where it will then be pumped the final six miles to Goodyear. Goodyear is building a pump station in Avondale to accomplish that task.
SRP delivers CAP water to other municipalities, but this is the first time SRP will deliver water to a municipality outside of its project boundaries.
Once the water completes the long journey, any solids are filtered out at the plant and then the water is disinfected.
The total budget for the plant is $129 million, which includes the design phase as well as construction. Newland Properties contributed $32 million of that total to ensure water for its planned homes in the Estrella Mountain Ranch area.
Mr. Setovich said his staff had only rough estimates on daily operating costs for the plant at this time, but said he knew the surface water plant would cost less to operate than pumping groundwater.
“Groundwater has a lot more stuff that needs to be extracted… We want to move away from groundwater as much as possible,” Mr. Setovich said. He also noted that it takes a lot of energy to pump water from the ground.
“The city of Goodyear is ensuring a reliable water supply by diversifying our resources and planning for future needs,” said Mayor Georgia Lord. “This project will help to secure new development for years to come and we are very proud of what that means for our residents and growing community.”
Though it hasn’t been able to transport the water from the Colorado River to the city, Goodyear has still been making use of its CAP allocation. It’s had its water transported to wells in northern Arizona, earning the city groundwater recharge credits for when it needs to replenish its groundwater. When the new facility is operational, it will inject some water back into the city’s wells to help maintain its reserves.
Even though surface water is more renewable than groundwater, there are still sustainability concerns surrounding the water that will be pumped into Goodyear’s new facility.
Due to a two-decade-long drought, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, two of the largest reservoirs along the Colorado River that supply CAP water, were reaching alarmingly low levels earlier this year. However, runoff from a snowy winter has staved off an emergency for at least a few more years. The states that draw from the river also laid out a new drought contingency plan, which will help mitigate the drought’s impact on CAP water.
“But that doesn’t mean that we’re, you know, off the hook,” Mr. Setovich said. “The state still needs to do many things, and there’s a lot of different efforts to use its water better, on the agricultural side as well as the cities. And then in the long-term, you know as the cities grow and so on, the state and the Valley are certainly going to have to for solutions with all the infrastructure that exists today.”
One example of a possible sustainability solution is recycling the wastewater that goes down the drain drinkable again. Now, when that water is recycled — at one of Goodyear’s three water reclamation facilities — it is used for non-drinking uses such as irrigation and landscaping. Mr. Setovich said the technology exists to treat the water further to get it back to a drinkable standard.
Such programs already exist in states like California and Texas, and Scottsdale has a demonstration project for the technology, Mr. Setovich said.
“That’s on the horizon,” he said. “When? We’re not sure, but at some point we’re going to have to deal with the reality that it makes more sense for us to just treat that water just a little bit more and put it back in the pipes rather than putting it in the ground and having to use all that energy to pump the water back out.”
In the meantime, Mr. Setovich says his staff is “very confident” they can satisfy the water needs for the city’s central planning area, which is everything north of Pecos Road. There is development planned for south of that divide, but Mr. Setovich said its hard to plan for water needs until he knows what that development will look like.
“Time will tell us what it is that we need to support in that area, and therefore, we’ll be able to find solutions that are really focused on what we need to support.”
The same goes for the city’s strategy in planning for its nearly tenfold population growth planned by 2085: plans will adjust once its clear where water is needed.
“I jokingly say, I think between today and 2085, there might be some adjustments to that plan.”