2/4/2022: The information below has been updated to include new questions. Please read Please reread all information below as information has changed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Purpose & General Information

What’s the overall purpose?

The purpose is to provide a long term reliable source of domestic water at an affordable price. We are proposing a regional water solution with the intent of creating a water improvement district which is a subdivision of the state of Arizona and pursuing federal funds (grants and loans). The water district will be run by a local elected board of directors

What is the timeline and steps from start to finish of establishing the Water District and users finally receiving water?
  • The first step in the process is to determine the local interest in water and whether there is enough support to make a Water District feasible. This is done through our Community meetings and interested landowners filling out a worksheet with their interest level to hold their spot.
  • Once all interested landowners have signed up the Board will work with Engineering to determine the best engineering plan and put together best estimates of costs for the land owners.
  • If the project is found to be financially feasible the Board will go back to the interested landowners to get official signatures on the petition to establish a Water District which will be submitted to the county as long as 51% of the acreage base within the final district boundaries signs.
  • Once the Water District is officially formed the Board will begin submitting for grants and finding other funding sources. The initial good faith payments from landowners will now be applied toward their accounts with the Water District.
  • Once funding is established construction will begin. Those who signed up will also start receiving and paying their monthly basic service charge.
  • If you signed up to receive water, once the construction gets to your area you will be contacted about running the water directly to your home (hookup to homes is guaranteed to only those who initially signed up). Once water hookup is established as you are able to use water you will be charged the monthly usage fee on top of the basic service charge.
How long do you have to sign up?

The deadline for filling out the interest form is June 1, 2022.


What is a regional (rural) water distribution system or water district?

It is a system of pipelines, storage reservoirs, pumping stations, wells, and treatment facilities (if required) located in a rural area to serve rural residences, small towns, and unincorporated communities.

How is a regional water system established?

Typically, a board of directors, formed by a local group of individuals dedicated to the development of a water system, is organized to lead in the development. They are assisted by engineers, attorneys, and USDA Rural Development. The board of directors, along with other supporters, conducts a sign-up campaign to determine who else is interested in being included (within the boundaries of the proposed system).

Are there any other water systems like this in AZ?

We believe we are the first group to create a new water system in AZ in recent years. However, systems like this have been done before here in AZ in the past (including the Elfrida Water District) and rural water districts are a common infrastructure in many states as a way to insure affordable access to domestic water.

Am I in the district outline? What area does the district cover? Are Sunsites, Sunizona and Elfrida included?

Please take a look at the proposed District map to see if your property is included. If you have any questions, please reach out to the Board for clarification. Sunsites, Sunizona, and Elfrida are included in the proposed District outline, excluding anyone currently getting water through either the Elfrida Water District, Clear Springs, or the Sunizona Water Company.

Can folks opt out of the Elfrida district and join the new district?

No. At this time, the Elfrida district is not part of the new district.

Why isn’t the area north of Willcox included in this district? Or Gleeson/Courtland near Elfrida?

The proposed system is already quite large. Once the system is made we can annex new areas in, if it is requested.

How can I sign up?

Come to one of our Community Meetings, fill out our online form or contact a member of the Board of Directors and make your interest known. You will be asked to sign up with your level of interest. Once signups are complete the Board will work with engineering to determine the economic feasibility of the project. As long as there’s enough interest the next step will be to form the official Water District. You will be asked at that time to sign the official petition to the county.

If I don’t connect now can I connect in 5, 10, 15, or 30 years?

Any future request for service will be subject to an engineering analysis of the capacity of the system to serve the added location without adversely affecting existing connections.

Is it a conservation plan?

This is not a conservation plan.

Will every house or parcel in the area be covered?

No. Only those who choose to be part of the Water District will be provided water.

What is the percentage of people that need to sign the petition to officially form the Water Improvement District?

51% of the acreage base within the final district boundaries need to sign the petition to form an official water district as long as the project is deemed financially feasible because enough land owners have expressed interest.

What if folks don’t want to be in the district, but are in the boundaries?

No one is required to utilize water from this system and those who do not want to be part of the water system will not pay.

How many people in the Sulphur Springs Valley would benefit directly from this (people without wells & who cannot afford them)?

There are approximately 2,000 homes located within the proposed water district (excluding homes already participating in the Elfrida water district, Clear Water water district, and Sunizona water district).

Where will my meter be?

Meters will be installed in small underground enclosures (meter box or meter pit) on the customer’s property at a location not subject to traffic and mutually agreed upon by the water district and the landowner.

Where will my water get connected?

Connection will be made to the existing water service on the property, underground, outside the residence, at a location mutually agreed upon by the water system and the landowner.

Will there be bulk water fill stations available for people to haul water?

If/when the system gains enough support and is financially viable the Board will consider putting bulk fill stations in to accommodate customers in later phases of construction. Existing customers of the district would have priority but some availability may exist for those who didn’t sign up.

Can I have the rural water all hooked up so that I can just switch over with a valve if I have trouble with my well?

No. Regulations require the water district’s system to be physically disconnected from other water sources. Authorities recognize that valves can leak or be left partially open, so valves are not allowed to be interconnected. You can install a short length of hose, so you can just unscrew the hose from one source and connect it to the other, but can’t have both connected at the same time.

Will industrial sites be allowed to connect or only residential?

Only residents are allowed to connect to the water district though they may choose to hook up a shop building, barn etc.

Will farmers be able to use the residential water supply for their crops? How will this be prevented?

No. The system will not be built to accommodate agricultural use.

How big is the pipe?

The pipe size will be determined by the Engineer based on the number of connections and expected water demands. Main pipeline sizes will vary depending upon location in the system and will probably range from two inches to 12 inches. Service lines to individual homes will be one inch or 1.5 inches.

What kind of pressure can I expect from the system, and will I have to repump the water after it is delivered to my residence?

By design, a minimum of 20 psi is provided to high elevation, end-of-line users during peak periods of predicted use. However, the average system pressure will probably be in the range of 40-60 psi.

When will the district start? When would I start getting water?

An exact date is impossible to set at this time, but our goal is to break ground by June 1, 2023.

How long will it take to finish the project?

Once funding is approved, a two-to-five year build is estimated depending on community interest.

Where would the water come from?

There will be two to four, twelve-inch wells drilled to 1,000+ feet deep.

Where are you planning to start building the wells and tanks?

The locations for all facilities will depend upon where the water users are located, the geography of that area and the availability of land. Locations will be determined as a part of the project preliminary engineering prior to construction.

Are the locations of the wells and water reservoirs on the map definite? How deep will the wells be? What kind of water storage system are you using? Why are there pumping stations?

The water system is currently in the preliminary engineering design phase. Location of wells and water storage will all be determined based on participation. All locations on the map are hypothetical at this point.

The proposed wells for the water system are 1000+ft deep.

The water district is planning to use ground level tanks for water storage. Specifics on the tanks have not been determined yet.

Pumping stations are proposed to add energy to water to get the water to the tanks, or to add pressure for higher elevation connections. Fewer boosters are considered in the southern part of the system because the ground generally slopes to the south, and pressures are higher without pumping.

How can only two 1000ft wells supply water to the entire valley?

Properly constructed wells in the area have been demonstrated to be capable of production in excess of 1 million gallons per day. The initial construction presumes that not all potential connections will participate early in the system development. The maximum daily water usage per connection is expected to average less than 1,000 gallons per day.

How can you guarantee 100 years of water? What happens if the wells run dry?

Hydrology reports show good amounts of water, and the wells will be built with the ability to deepen them if needed.

Won’t pumping all this water dry up people’s existing wells?

Creating a water district does not increase the amount of water being pumped, but existing wells near the new, deeper wells could be adversely affected.

Who is paying for the project? Who is paying for the engineering firm and hydrologist?
  • USDA Rural Development is one avenue of financing. It has been involved in the financing of most of the regional (rural) water systems now in existence. Loans and/or grants are provided if the system is determined to be feasible and the money is available. Loans are normally made over a thirty-year period at a stipulated rate of interest.
  • Other forms of financing have included user contribution, county funds, state loans and grants, and Federal participation such as NRCS, HUD, EDA, and ARRA.
  • Donations
How is this related to the petition to put on the ballot for 2022 a motion to create an Active Management Area (AMA)?

These two efforts are completely unrelated.

Will the AZWT chlorination requirements, testing for lead, etc. be followed? What kind of water quality can I expect?

The water will be the best water obtainable from available sources. Troublesome minerals such as iron and manganese will be removed if necessary and other treatment and routine water quality monitoring will comply with state health and Federal Safe Drinking Water Act Standards for public water supply systems.


How is this system paid for?

USDA Rural Development is one avenue of financing. It has been involved in the financing of most of the regional (rural) water systems now in existence. Loans and/or grants are provided if the system is determined to be feasible and the money is available. Loans are normally made over a thirty year period at a stipulated rate of interest. The District is responsible for repaying the loan. The individuals within the district will be the revenue source for the loan repayment, in accordance with the policies and rates set by the Board of Directors.

How much will this cost?

Costs of both the whole project, and to an individual land owner will depend on community participation (in general, the more community members participate the less each will pay), engineering feasibility studies, and the sources of funding the Board is able to receive (USDA, WIFFA, etc).

Current estimates put the whole project cost at around $40-80 million.

We understand that a water solution for this valley must remain at as low a cost to the user as possible and are keeping that in mind throughout this process. Until we have a sense of engineering, design, and community interest we cannot guess at what costs will look like for an average user. We will be able to give better estimates once the studies are complete.

The current plan is to charge project participants a monthly basic service charge once water has been run to their property. In addition, a usage fee will be added to the monthly bill once participants start getting and using water. All costs for construction including the connection to the existing home water system will be covered. 
How much will my monthly water bill be?

Approximately $70-$95 a month if you are using water. The monthly minimum bill is expected to be about $50. The water charge for water used will be added to the monthly minimum. The water charge is expected to be about $5.00 per 1,000 gallons. Note these numbers are estimates. We will be able to give better estimates once we gauge community interest.  

What is the cost based on? Number of people who signed up?

The cost is based on the engineering costs within the proposed district boundaries, possible grant money from the USDA, and an estimate of the number of users within the system.

Is the timeline and cost of the pipeline realistic? Has the engineering firm taken into account the abundance of caliche here and how difficult it is to dig in?

The costs and the timeline are conceptual estimates based on very preliminary planning. The timeline is reasonable as compared to similar but smaller projects in Southeastern Arizona. The expected construction methods and costs are based on historic buried utility construction in Cochise County.

How will the residents be billed?

Landowners will be sent a monthly bill which would be paid to the water district directly. This bill would include the basic service charge plus a usage charge (if the landowner is using water).

What is the price per gallon you used for these estimates?

We are using a water price of $5.00 per 1,000 gallons for the conceptual budget. That price, along with a conservative estimate of an average of 5,000 gallons per month per connection, resulted in the $70-$95 total bill. The total average water bill has to cover both operating costs and debt service.

Will it cause my property taxes to go up? How much?

Costs for the project will be repaid by the monthly charges to project participants as a utility bill, and will not be part of property taxes.

Property taxes are based on property valuation. Many factors affect valuation, and it is not possible to predict whether this project will be a measurable factor.

Why do people in Elfrida’s Water District currently pay less per month than what is estimated here?

Much of the expected cost for this system relates to the construction cost. Existing water systems in the area were constructed years ago when costs were lower, and the systems have been in use long enough that the initial costs have been paid. This new system will have higher costs initially, but over time those costs will be paid and the comparable costs will be similar.

Why does it cost so much? (compared to deepening or drilling a well)

The monthly costs are the total cost to the customer for a reliable, quality water supply. Compared to the costs for drilling a well and maintaining the pumping systems, and the costs for energy to pump an individual well, it is expected the long-term costs of the water system will be lower than a well.

If I sign up for the water district, will I get compensated for having my own well?

Individuals may continue to maintain private wells if he/she desires. The water district will not “buy out” or otherwise compensate owners for existing wells.

I am in support of this, but I currently have my own well. Can I sign up and pay for my hookup without getting water?

The SEAZWD Board of Directors is working toward a plan whereby those participating initially, but not taking water, will pay only a basic service charge monthly but will not be charged a usage fee.

What if I sign up for water and it takes 10 years to build out to you, do I have to pay during that time?

You will be required to pay the basic service charge (monthly minimum) beginning the month when water service is available at your meter. You will begin to pay for the water you use when you begin to use it.


Who will decide on how much the rates are going to be?

The rates, including the monthly minimum charge and the water charge, will be determined by the Board of Directors. The usage fee will reflect the cost of operations.

Why are all the Directors on the Board big farming entities and not residential representatives?

The interim board was chosen from homeowners in the project boundaries who had expressed interest and motivation in seeing a water district succeed. They are meant to be a volunteer, business minded group with ample time to devote to this project as they will be the ones applying for government grants, working with federal employees and the engineers, and vetting local vendors to both install and maintain the water district etc. Once the water district is formed elections will be held to ensure the people within the district have a say in their governance.

How was the Interim Board of Directors chosen?

The interim board was chosen from homeowners in the project boundaries who had expressed interest and motivation in seeing a water district succeed. They are meant to be a volunteer, business minded group with ample time to devote to this project as they will be the ones applying for government grants, working with federal employees and the engineers, and vetting local vendors to both install and maintain the water district etc. Once the water district is formed elections will be held to ensure the people within the district have a say in their governance. 

I’m interested in becoming a board member. How do I do that?

New board members will be elected by the water district participants. Board members will serve four-year terms.

What can I do to assist the Board of Directors?

You can visit with your neighbors to discuss the information included here. As a very general “rule-of-thumb,” to be economically feasible there should be approximately three to four users for every two miles of pipe installed.

What does the maintenance of the district look like long-term? Who runs and maintains the system? How is that paid for?

The Board of Directors will be in charge of setting up the system long-term. This includes most likely hiring a manager to oversee operations and working with local companies to perform maintenance. Maintenance costs are built into the system.

How is this related to the Chiricahua Water Project?

The Chiricahua Water Project was a different initiative focusing on the possibility of a water district in the Sunizona area. It has been disbanded since the Southeastern Arizona Water District includes Sunizona. The members of that project are now working with the SEAZWD.


Will it cause my property value to go up?

Having a secure water source may positively impact your property’s value.

Will I have to give an easement across my property for the water lines, and if so, will I get paid for it?

Project participants and adjacent landowners will be asked to provide easements for pipeline installation on private property. Where it is more desirable for the water system, some pipelines may be installed in public right of way. As a water district member and customer, no, you will not be reimbursed.

Will my fences be repaired after or during construction?

Yes. The contractor is required (by the contract documents prepared by the engineer) to repair fences to equal or better condition. The contractor is also responsible for damage to any other existing utilities such as telephone, power lines, existing water lines, etc.

Will I still be able to drill my own well, whether I participate in the water district or not?

Yes. The water district will not regulate personal well drilling nor water usage from private wells.

If I sign up, will I be required to only use water from the water district?

No. You will be allowed to use your own wells if you wish. For example, some customers may only want the water for their homes and continue using their existing wells for livestock watering. However, please remember that your private supply cannot be interconnected with the regional water system.

Why not just subsidize individual wells for people rather than this massive project?

The water district will be supported by deep wells of 1000+ feet. In this way, water will be ensured for the area far into the future. It is financially infeasible to subsidize deep wells for the entire community. Therefore, the subsidization of wells would only postpone the issue to a future date.

I live off-grid. Why should I support this?

If your definition of “off-grid” is no monthly bills, then you should plan for the significant initial cost of a deep private well, and the irregular ongoing costs for maintaining the well and pumping system. You may wish to consider the resale impacts of that choice, and the possibility that a subsequent owner would prefer a separately maintained, reliable water supply.

I own vacant land in the district footprint. Can I sign up and why should I?

Individuals retain ownership of vacant land for a variety of purposes. If your intent is to build a dwelling, signing up would assure a reliable, quality water supply for your future. If you are an investor, consider the added value to your property offered by an immediate, reliable water supply for a prospective buyer. Owners of vacant tracts are encouraged to sign up and participate.

I currently have water through a different water district. How does this affect me? 

The new water district will be formed around the service territory boundaries of the existing water districts and water companies. This project will not directly affect those entities and customers.

I’m a renter, can I sign up for this?

Renters are encouraged to complete the signup form and indicate the landowner name and address. Ultimately the landowner must agree to participation and must agree to be part of the water district.

What if I have multiple properties? Do I have to pay for all of them?

You pay for every hookup, so if you would like a hookup on every property then yes. Otherwise, you only pay for the properties you would like hookups on. You could even pay for 2 hookups on the same property if you wanted.

If I have one meter for a 30-acre parcel and then later I want to split it into two, 15-acre parcels what happens with meterage and water to both?

The original parcel gets the original meter and hookup The new parcel would need to pay a hookup fee to get a new meter and be added to the system

Is there enough water for livestock?

With the use of storage tanks there should be enough water for a household plus a few head of personal livestock. The storage tanks would be necessary during certain times of the year as the flow rate of this water system will be designed for residential use.

Will this system bring growth and lots more people to our valley?

There are already a lot of new faces in the Sulphur Springs Valley and more people are falling in love with the area everyday. This district will simply provide infrastructure to support everyone.

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