YUMA FOOTHILLS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT Yumafoothillssewergroup.org To: All interested residents of the Yuma Foothills Improvement District area From: The Directors of the Yuma Foothills Improvement District Subject: Recent Changes Already got the question what's better similac or enfamil? Go to the site and choose! This is to notify all Foothills residents of recent changes to the Yuma Foothills Improvement District officers, directors, and statutory agent. In 2015 Bob Gilkey, Bob Rist, Barbara Gilkey,and Beverly Mahnke have resigned as officers, directors, and/or the statutory agent. Manage to pick up the best tb 500 peptide, only on our website! Due to their resignations the following individuals were elected: Cindy Stephenson, President and Director Val Gleave, Vice President, Treasurer, and Director Dale Gleave, Statutory Agent Susan Ellis, will remain the Secretary and Director Alice Berry, Director The Board is still in contact with the attorney and he is attempting to make contact with Far West owners to determine if negotiations for a sale would be considered or not. We will keep all of you informed as to the outcome. The Secretary, Susie Ellis, will continue to receive any correspondence sent to the district. Our mailing address, email, and websites will remain the same and are listed below. Yuma Foothills Improvement District PO Box 25465 Yuma AZ 85367 email@example.com Thanks for your patience and if anyone is interested in assisting in this project with time or donations, please write or use the website to notify us of your interest. Cindy Stephenson
It appears that our increased sewer rates do not result in better operation of the system. Far West had 3 sewage spills in one day, all at different locations.
Raw sewage leak reported in Foothills
Blake Herzog @blakeherzog | Posted: Wednesday, January 14, 2015 11:10 pm
The Far West Sewer and Water pumping station at 44th Street and Hunter Avenue in the Foothills on Sunday. Pieces of chlorine tablets used to treat the area after Saturday’s sewage spill are visible on the ground in front of the pumps.
A raw sewage leak was reported Saturday morning from a Far West Sewer and Water pumping station in the Foothills east of Yuma, in the area around Foothills Boulevard and 44th Street.
Do you consider a real massager is expensive to buy? Read benefits and risks about homemade prostate toys. The choice is up to you! Andy Capestro, attorney for Far West, said Wednesday the spill happened when an electrical short in the pumping unit at 44th Street and Hunter Avenue took out both the main pump and the backup, as well as a radio that was supposed to notify maintenance crews of any equipment failures at the site.
“It wasn’t because anything was overburdened or anything, it was just an equipment failure,” Capestro said. The pumps there had been recently serviced, he said.
Crews quickly contained the spill, then decontaminated the area with chlorine tablets and a vacuum truck, he said, and “there was no residential damage.”
He said crews had the station up and running again within two hours. “We took out the pump that had shorted out and put another one in, and then we had the electrician and our maintenance technician redo the circuit board,” he said.
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) spokesman Mark Shaffer said Wednesday that Far West told the agency about three Saturday sewage spills in the area on Tuesday; the notifications are required under state law.
Two, amounting to 2,500 gallons and 500 gallons, were at the pumping station. A third, of 500 gallons, was from a lift station at Hanks Market and Butcher Shop at Foothills Boulevard and 38th Street.
Steve Vielleux lives three blocks away from the pump station and happened to drive by just after the leak was reported around 9:30 a.m. Saturday. “From the smell I could tell it was sewage,” he said. “I could see it running into the street, and when it got to the street you could see it was gurgling up from under a manhole.”
He didn’t call authorities because there was already a sheriff’s deputy at the scene, but he did take photos while there and filed a formal complaint with ADEQ. “I haven’t heard anything back, and I really don’t think I will,” he said.
Shaffer said the agency had received three complaints from the public about Far West sewer capacity overflow, and he believed they all stem from the Saturday morning incident. A water quality inspector arrived late Wednesday afternoon and verified the area had been disinfected.
“We are currently investigating the cause of the spills and determining the appropriate action,” Shaffer said. He did not know whether the leak could pose any threat to public health in the area.
Vielleux said he is active with a group of Foothills residents who have begun an effort to form a special district for the purpose of buying Far West’s assets and getting local control over what they say is a persistent septic odor problem. “I’m standing in my front yard right now, and I smell sewer,” he said.
Far West is owned by Paula Capestro and Sandie Braden, the daughters of original Foothills developer Hank Schechert. It has 15,000 water accounts and 9,000 sewer customers, mostly in the Foothills but some inside Yuma city limits. The company got approval in 2013 for a 162 percent sewer rate increase from the Arizona Corporation Commission, over the protests of many customers. Representatives said at the time the hike was needed to avoid bankruptcy and improve the system.
Far West’s network of sewer treatment plants and one water treatment plant was started by Schechert in the early 1990s, and its history includes a 2001 accident at an underground tank that killed two workers and a 2006 consent order that included a moratorium on hookups at its Del Oro plant. The moratorium was lifted within two years.
The company reached a $500,000 settlement with ADEQ in 2010 for “numerous” water and air quality violations, settling a lawsuit the agency filed in 2008. Terms included a $150,000 fine, improvements to remove sludge from water at the Del Oro plant and consolidation of operations to upgraded facilities by closing three older sites.
ADEQ inspectors issued a “potential violation” notice last March after responding to complaints about the Marwood sewer plant overflowing onto the adjacent par 3 golf course. An ADEQ report said that water was treated effluent, not raw sewage.
Odor issues were found at the time, and one of the three reactors appeared to be septic, reports said. Deficiencies noted at the time included inadequate signage for parts of the golf course watered with the effluent. All Far West facilities were inspected last November after multiple odor complaints were received, Shaffer said. Odor was improved significantly at the Marwood plant, but deficiencies were found at the Del Oro plant near the Mesa Del Sol Golf Club, where “odor-producing units were not in an enclosed area per the permit and the odor control unit was open to the air,” Shaffer said.
Last month, Capestro showed ADEQ inspectors photos of additional scrubbers that had been added to the Del Oro plant, and he was told that if the equipment reduced the smell from the site, that plant would be in compliance, Shaffer said.
He said a new lift station at 40th Street and Foothills Boulevard will improve the system, and the Marwood plant is now operating smoothly. “It’s in great shape, and the golf course on 56th (Street) is in gorgeous shape,” he said.
To all those who were unable to come to the meeting, we missed you. I would like very much to have filled the auditorium at Gila Ridge High School. We had about 170 people attend. Except for the low attendance it was quite successful. We tried to explain what we are trying to do, and we held a silent auction.
The auction and amount of donations was very good, and I want to extend my deepest thanks to all who participated. The fund raising at this time has brought in around $4000.00 and may grow. We have received several donations in the mail since the meeting.
I have been entering new names in our email list this week so you can be kept informed of what we are doing. The list is still very small compared to the number of people in the Foothills. You can help by getting your neighbors to contact us to be put on the list. The easiest way is to go on our website and use the contact us button on the menu. The website is www.yumafoothillssewergroup.org .
I passed out a worksheet where I did a couple of scenario’s of how we may pay to purchase Far West. It was only for illustration purposes, and in no way points out what we are prepared to offer to Far West, much more work must be done before we get to that point. The questionnaire indicated some people may be confused about what the purpose of the donations is. It appears they came to the conclusion it is to pay for the purchase. It is for professional help like attorney and appraiser if we go forward. The cost of purchase would be payed by your monthly water and sewer bill. It would be purchased with a 100% loan from WIFA, a state agency that funds water and sewer projects.
I am still working with the questionnaire forms to determine the number in favor. Quite a few indicated they are in favor and willing to work in their neighborhood to promote this effort. We still need more donations in order to retain a good attorney. By the way you can donate on our website, using your credit card or PAYPAL account, it is very simple and Paypal is very secure to use.
If you have any questions let me know, if I have the answer I will tell you, and if not I’ll let you know that to. By the way you can make replies right here. Let us know what you think.
Foothills Community meeting
The Yuma Foothills Sewer Group will host a public meeting on November 10, 2014. It will be held at Gila Ridge High School Auditorium, 7150 E. 24th Street (near AWC) at 6:30 pm. The meeting will be a combination of question/answer period, and a fund raising auction. This is a very important meeting as we will discuss the future of this group and where we proceed from here. We plan to take a ballot vote to determine the position of the property owners. Questions on the ballot will help determine if the majority is in favor of forming this District with the intent of purchase of Far West assets, and where we set the boundaries of the Special District. Also we need to determine if we just want to pursue ownership of just the Sewer system or both water and sewer system. The reasons will be discussed at the meeting.
At this point we have the corporate organization formed to operate under, but we can not move ahead without much more involvement from the Foothills community. We are going to need the services of an attorney who is experienced Special District and utilities. We can’t move ahead with hiring an attorney with out sufficient funds.
Far West has made many mistakes over the years, and it will not be easy to correct all the problems. There was no system wide planning when all of these plants were built. The goal was always making a profit for H&S development, and it still is. A Special Improvement District will serve the community not a couple of private owners. No one should have any illusions that we can solve all the issues immediately, but also should not believe that because they are now receiving $56.92 a month, that they will change management style. Their management style is steering business to their related businesses, such as H&S Development and the hardware store. The Arizona Corporation Commission, while seeing some reason to be concerned, in the end did not find fault with their dealings with related companies. Giving a no-bid contract to H&S Development in excess of $2,000,000 is not in the best interest of the community. Under a Special District we will no longer come under the Arizona Corporation Commission.
We hope you can make it to this meeting. The date may not work for everyone, however it was the only date we could get in November. Because of the time it takes in the process to form a District it is necessary to get started as soon as possible. If you are unable to make it to this meeting, but are concerned, you can call me, Bob Rist at 541-378-8223 or use the contact form on our Website at “WWW.yumafoothillssewergroup.org”
After the business meeting we will announce the winners in the silent auction. We hope you will take part in this auction to make it a success. If you have an item that you can donate for the auction, please contact us at the phone number above, or Beverly at 928-305-6583. Beverly can pick up any items you wish to donate. A popular auction item is a nice bottle of wine from your area. Why not bring a nice bottle from your local area. Oregon and Washington has small winery’s all over. We hope that you will make generous bids on some items, it will help our effort and you can take home a nice item.
Come to the meeting on November 10th at 6:30, get involved, and have fun bidding. Christmas is coming, you may just find a nice gift.
Today August 14 2014 I added a Donation button to the donation page. You can now make donations two ways. You can send a check directly to our mailing address at PO Box 25465, Yuma AZ 85367. Or you can use the new donation button. You do not need a Paypal account to use it, all credit cards are accepted, as well as checks. The transactions are handled on Paypal’s secure website. Our website has no access to your card numbers, we are only given your email address and home address. I have tested it out by making the first donation on Paypal, all worked smoothly, but let me know if you have a problem.
We are still planning on a public meeting in November. We are planning to have an auction of donated items. I have been working this summer making unique clocks and wood signs in my shop, which I am donating for the auction. We will need help from as many of you as can donate something. I mentioned in an earlier post that these auctions have proven to be successful in raising money. A popular item is a bottle of local wine from your area, or maybe a micro-brew beer. If you are a quilter, we would love to have a donation to auction, also I know there are some artists around, lets have some paintings.
Its been awhile since we have had any news. We did recently get good news from IRS. Our application for tax exempt status under 501C3 rules has been approved. The approval letter states that the approval is retroactive back to March 14 2014. So any donations from that date will be tax deductible. We have records of all donations and will issue recites by year end.
We are planning to hold a public meeting in November, and will have more details before then. It is absolutely imperative that we raise money to fund the effort to form a Special District. Up till now everything we have done has been without the expertise of a qualified attorney, this can’t continue. As of now we are planning to hold and auction of unique items at the public meeting. I love to do woodworking in my shop, and have made some unique clocks, eight so far which I am donating for the auction. I want to encourage all of you to consider donating at least one item for the auction. At a Navy reunion that I attend we have been able to raise large amounts of money, and have a lot of fun while doing it. Many of the people bring a local wine from their area, or some other unique item from your neck of the woods. I have had at least one person offer to bring a painting. If you have a talent that can be shared for our cause, it will help make us a success. When we get back we are going to need people to do neighborhood fund-raising. I hope you will consider teaming up with a friend to canvas your neighborhood, spreading the word about our efforts and ask for donations. I am always amazed at how many people still do not know that we are trying to own and control our own sewer and water service.
Please let me hear your ideas.
A number of times there has been information put out in different places, like letters to the editor, and the Yuma Foothills Nextdoor website, that is not correct.
Several have suggested that Far West sewer rates are not out of line compared to City of Yuma. They always compare the Far West monthly bill with the Yuma bimonthly bill. Since Yuma was billing every two months it looked like there bill was higher. Yuma is now implementing a monthly billing cycle, so this problem should cease.
Recently one of these was posted on the NEXTDOOR site, by Susan Ginn. She made this argument but gave no numbers as evidence. She also left out the fact that she is an employee of Far West. I called her out on it, asking why she did not let the people know she was an employee, and why she gave no numbers as evidence. She complained very much, saying I was out of order by saying “she had a dog in this fight” ( not impartial ). I was told to change my statement or delete it. I deleted it then ask that hers be deleted. She did say in a reply to me that she is a proud employee for 15 years, and that Far West are good employers. She pointed out that I did not know her, and she is right, I don’t, but our research and discovery showed her as an employee. I have no bone to pick with any employee, but I do want correct information.
I assume most of you have recent article that was in the Yuma Sun. It suppose to be a report of the findings of ADEQ on complaints and sewerage on the golf course at Par 3. It talked about a new lift station that is being installed on 40th Street. It is said to be designed to take 100,000 gallons per day, that currently go to Marwood and reroute it to the Section 14 Plant. While this report may seem like good news to some, I’m not so sure. This lift station was suppose to be built in 2009, but was not. The money was spent elsewhere. While Section 14 has the capacity to treat this sewage, it has experienced problems with odors. Section 14 had no odor control built into it, leaving Far West to come up with a solution to the odor. We all know how that goes. So is the problem just being moved to a different area?
Our application for 501-C3 status was received by IRS on March 14 2014. They responded that they have the application. An IRS website shows that they are currently processing applications received in August 2013. That indicates we may not be looked at for about 6 months.
We need to hire an Attorney to move ahead. Currently there are things we need to do, but need expert help. They will have to wait till funds are raised to meet that need.
I talked about fund raising in a previous post, but got no response from anyone. I will continue to work on ways to raise funds, but I need your help. You can make reply’s here with your ideas.
We are looking for ways to raise funds to meet the goals of the Improvement District. We are going to need the services of an attorney, we don’t have the ability to meet the requirements without one.
Anyone who has ideas, and would be willing to help raise funds, please contact me. I am considering signing up for a space at the outdoor Market Place in November and December. I plan to make some wood items in my shop this summer. Probably will make some clocks and signs. If you can make anything that can be sold for Christmas, and are willing to help please join in.
You can leave comments here or contact by email.
Recently I received an email from Sandi Rogalski, in which she is upset and doesn’t understand why there is a difference in charges for RV’s hooked up to the sewer.
Theresa Bledsoe sent me an email a few days ago with a very unusual subject. It was an article on the Oregon Live website, about a wastewater plant in Woodenville Washington that can be rented for Weddings and other functions. The article peaked my interest so I looked into it further, and was a little surprised at what I found. Here is a link to the plant site. This is a large plant, serving around 1.3 million people, and treating about 30 million per day, but has a hydraulic capacity of 150 million per day. I was not surprised that it was a beautiful place, and people would consider using it for weddings. I have seen and worked at several plant in Oregon that are beautiful and have a park like setting. What did surprise me is the fact that this plant was built from the ground up with odor control in mind, as well as a very high quality effluent. How do they get the high quality effluent? Well they are using the same process that Far West has used at the Section 14 plant.
So why doesn’t Section 14 measure up to the same standards? During the construction of Section 14, I talked to several people in fairly high place when it comes to the standards for this plant. They all told me this is state of the art treatment and will have an excellent effluent. What they all are overlooking is if it smells like HELL, it will not be received well, no mater how good the effluent. Section 14 plant has zero designed in odor control, and now Far West is working on home made solutions. The engineers for the plant in Washington designed it so that no air that comes off of any process gets into the atmosphere without going through an elaborate scrubbing system.
If you read the document on our website called “Sweet Smell of Success”, it is clear that the engineers knew odor was a problem before they started. They did a couple of little fixes at pump stations, and declared the odor problem resolved. It made for good press in the engineers newsletter, but it did not fix our odors. They made modifications at Section 14, Del Oro, and Seasons plants, and none of them included any type of odor control. Far West knew more than anyone that the odors were a major problem, and they apparently said nothing to the engineers, or maybe they did, and told the engineers the cost was to much. We have to remember Andrew Capestro fired the engineers project manager before the project was done. Then he hired himself at $10,000.00 per month.
I think this plant in Woodenville Washington shows the contrast of what you get with competent management, and one without. I do not believe Far West management was asking the right questions of the engineers, and the engineers surely did not design proper solutions for this area. Lets hear your comments or questions.
Many of you came out to our information table that we set up in front of the Par 3 Golf Course, and next to the Marwood Wastewater Treatment Plant. We want to thank each and everyone who came, and for the generous donations that you gave to get this effort going. For those that did not come or did not know about it, I want to bring you up to date on what happened, and share some of my opinions on the day.
We set this up and advertised it here on this site and through an email to all on our list. We did not know that Far West was so interested in what we had to say, that they came out and set up their own table not more than 25 feet from ours. Many people not realizing that Far West had a table there, stopped at their table and listened for a few minutes, when they realized this was the same thing they have heard from Far West for years. Our table was a success, we raised over $1000.00 and doubled the size of our email list.
Far West came prepared with information for you the Sewer user, in a 2 page letter that they put together, along with stuff from the internet to try to support the high fees for the sewage. I have put a copy of the letter in the “Documents” section. It is also available at this link.
In this and future posts, I will address items in that letter, and I welcome your comments. In the first paragraph, they state that Marwood has a capacity of 340,000 gallons per day. This is a theoretical capacity based on engineers estimates, and approved by ADEQ in their permit. I maintain that if the plant can not be operated at that capacity without smelling, then it is over capacity. However aside from that, ADEQ also requires that when a plant gets to 80 percent of it design capacity, plans must be developed for additional capacity. They state that in January the average flow was 313,000 gallons per day. This puts the average flow at 92% of the design capacity, clearly no additional flow must be added to this plant. They also state in that paragraph that the flow are going down to under 280,000 gallons per day. Well so what, the winter residents are leaving. The one and only justification for charging us all 12 months, is so they can provide adequate capacity when we are all here in the Foothills. I am one the few that does support that 12 month charge, but they are clearly not meeting their obligation of providing adequate treatment during the peak months. Let me hear your opinion on this. I will cover other items in another post.
As of 03/22/2014 the document on how to make a complaint has been changed to reflect change made at ADEQ. You should download and print a new copy for your use. Go to document on the menu, then click on “How to make a complaint”.
Just when we thought someone at ADEQ was listening to us, they may have pulled in one of their dedicated employees. On Thursday morning when we were giving out information at the Marwood plant, we learned the responsibility for Far West has been removed from John Eyre. Far West issues have been moved from the Tucson office to the Phoenix office. We are told the contact person is Daniel Czecholinski, 602-771-4612.
Why is this being done? Is some kind of influence being used here? It sure makes me wonder.
Let me know if you have any contact with this person. I will call him myself next week.
I want to give you an update of what has been accomplished with the Yuma Foothills Improvement. Friday we received confirmation from the Arizona Corporation Commission, that we have been approved as a non-profit Corporation in Arizona. Tomorrow we can now send off our application for 501C3 status from IRS. As soon as it is sent we are allowed to conduct business as a non-profit, however we are not assured of tax exempt status till it is confirmed by IRS. When it is confirmed all transactions are tax deductible back to the date we mailed the application.
Our time for snowbirds being here in the Foothills is running very short. We had hoped to have another public meeting, before people leave, but it has not worked out. We tried to get the Gila Ridge high school, but it booked up till the end of the month. There are a couple of items we hope to accomplish before we leave, then we will need to wait till we return in the fall.
It may not seem like it but your complaints to ACC and ADEQ are having an effect. We finally got action from ADEQ, when John Eyre made a surprise trip to Yuma and inspected the Marwood plant. John found several things wrong, the most obvious being the effluent overflowing the pond on the Par 3 golf course, and making another large pond near County 14 street. This was a violation of their permit. Also it looks like they have inadequate flow metering in the plant, so ADEQ can’t determine if flow is greater than the permit allows. Also disinfection of the effluent is not done properly, and has not been for years. This means the effluent could still contain live pathogenic bacteria. The problem is ADEQ has done no testing because their budget is inadequate to allow it. They have to depend on reports from Far West.
You need to continue making your complaints right up to the time you leave. If you are hear during the summer, and you experience, make a complaint. They are hoping that when the winter residents leave, the odors will quit. If they do that shows that the plant is overloaded. If nothing is done, then you can be assured the odor will be there this fall when we return. If live in the areas that have odor, and you feel the value of your property has been reduced, then make this a point in your complaints.
The Yuma Foothills Improvement District needs your help. I have heard so many people say they didn’t know anything about our effort to form this district, and what we are all about. You can help by spreading the word. I am asking each person who receives this email to tell at least 10 neighbors about us. They can get on our email list by replying to this email, with their name and email address. Also can go to our website and use the Contact US option on the menu. The website is www.yumafoothillssewergroup.org . Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org .
Many of you have noticed along with the odors coming from the Marwood plant, there is standing water on the grounds of the Par 3 golf course. I have spoken with John Eyre at ADEQ today, and he tells me that they are definitely not in compliance of their permit. He has told them they need to several things to determine the actual flow coming through the plant. All of the effluent is suppose to be contained within the pond, and disposed of by evaporation and sprinkling of the grass on the golf course. Flooding over the pond is not permitted.
This brings into question, is the plant over design capacity? We argued this point at the rate hearing, but the judge sided with the so called expert witness. The justification for making us pay sewer rates 12 months a year is that the plants have to be built big enough to handle the flow during the peak months, which is right now. In 2006 ADEQ did not find anything wrong with Marwood plant, and the management at Far West did not do the right thing and realize that this plant has a problem. They have made it worse by adding more connections at El Rancho Encantado. They committed in 2009 to build a pump station that would take flow away from Marwood and send it to Section14 plant. They did not do this, now they say it will be done maybe next year.
John at ADEQ says there are no short term solutions, only long term.
He also indicates that he is not one of those that don’t want to receive our complaints, and says it will get action eventually.
We must continue sending in the complaints both to him and Roxanne Lindsey. Instructions are on our website.
During the hearings at ACC last April, one of the things that totally surprised me, and blew my mind was the opinion expressed by members of staff that Far West debt is good for the rate payer. Continue reading
This is my first post here, and since the purpose of this website is about forming a Special Water & Sanitary District under the rules of Arizona Revised Statutes Title 48, I want to discuss whether or not it is needed. I invite you to get involved and join in the discussion. Continue reading