2018 Water Talk News

Ever wonder where your water comes from? Check out this video to find out!


Draft: Enforcement Response Plan Public Comment Period

August 14, 2018

TO: City of Flagstaff Industrial Pretreatment Customers, Stormwater Customers, Cross Connection Customers

FROM: Steve Camp, Regulatory Compliance Manager

The City of Flagstaff Water Services is requesting comments on the Enforcement Response Plan (ERP) DRAFT for the cross-connection control, stormwater, and industrial pretreatment programs. The ERP contains detailed procedures indicating how Flagstaff Water Services will investigate and respond to instances of noncompliance in these three programs.

Flagstaff Water Services will consider criteria such as significance, severity, and duration of a violation and the good faith of the operator when determining enforcement. View a basic outline of our enforcement process.


Program of the Year!

July 30th, 2018

On July 23, Flagstaff Water Services Reclaimed Water Program received the Program of the Year Award at the WateReuse AZ Annual Symposium!

The Program was recognized for its diverse methods of using reclaimed water to enhance Flagstaff’s quality of life, protect its future supplies, and make good use of every drop. Currently, water reclamation offsets Flagstaff’s water consumption by 20 percent.

The WateReuse Association, founded in 1990, is a national not-for-profit trade organization dedicated to promoting sustainable culture through water recycling.  The Association circulates accurate information about reclaimed water and advocates legislation for increased water reuse options.  WateReuse AZ brings together a wide variety of water professionals to support the development of reclamation and advanced treatment endeavors in our state.

Water Services Director Brad Hill accepting the award

BRAD acceping

Our Reclaimed Water Team at the Symposium


This award showcases the many ways reclaimed water enhanced recreational, economic, and sustainability needs in Flagstaff in 2018:          

  • The Bushmaster Park Pump Station was constructed to provide a higher volume of reclaimed water to the area and accommodate future demands.                                                           
  • Frances Short Pond, part of the Rio de Flag stormwater system, is regularly topped off with grade A+ reclaimed water.  The Pond received a new aerator this this year to provide balance for its fish and plant life.                                                                                                                   
  • Reclaimed water also sustains Picture Canyon’s rich ecosystem as it travels through the Rio de Flag. Flagstaff consistently releases grade A+ water into the Rio to benefit the local environment and replenish our aquifers.                                                                                                
  • Reclaimed water is used throughout the summer on our parks, school grounds, golf courses, public landscapes, and on the NAU campus.  In winter, reclaimed water customers like Arizona Snowbowl thrive and bring revenue into the community.  In early 2018, amid extraordinary drought, Snowbowl reported its fifth-best season on record.  Snowbowl has been utilizing reclaimed water for its snowmaking since 2013.

The City of Flagstaff is committed to the responsible and safe use of reclaimed water. In response to public concern, a commission was formed in 2012 to investigate Compounds of Emerging Concern (CECs).  This five-year study, completed in 2018, concluded that “there were no data to suggest that the continued use of reclaimed water provides undue risk to human health.”  This determination allowed for the City to move forward to the next step – an Advanced Treatment Feasibility Study – reviewing the potential costs, benefits, and new infrastructure associated with Potable Reuse for Flagstaff’s future.

As a leader for emerging water reuse technologies, our Reclaimed Water Program is providing the community with safe, environmentally sustainable water, positioning us to meet all current and future water needs for our community. 


Filling Wildlife Troughs at Red Gap Ranch's Cedar Well

July 5, 2018

Cedar Well Holding Tank This photo represents an annual trip by Water Production staff to five test-wells at Red Gap Ranch. During acute drought years like this one, even perennial watering holes and streams can vanish, leaving our wildlife population in dire straits. To address this problem, open stock troughs at each site are regularly filled to provide water for range animals through the summer.

When the 8,500-acre Ranch was purchased in in 2005 as a source for Flagstaff's future water needs, the City partnered with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to install these watering troughs, linked to 7,000-gallon holding tanks. The troughs benefit indigenous wildlife- most notably pronghorn and feral horses - which regularly move through the property. Ensuring that visiting animals will never leave thirsty is a small, long-term effort to support the environment while securing a reliable water supply for Flagstaff.


Stormwater Press Release

June 26, 2018

Stormwater Header

Monsoon Awareness and Flooding 

The monsoon is upon us and the City of Flagstaff Stormwater Management Section would like to make the public aware of precautions and services provided by the City.

  • Streets flood quickly! A car can float in as little as a foot of water. Do not attempt to cross flooded areas. Respect all traffic barricades.
  • Please call 911 to report a flooding emergency.
  • For street or right-of-way flooding concerns, please call Public Works 213-2100.
  • If you have private property flooding concerns, the Stormwater Management Section will investigate and may be able to help. Please contact Christopher Palmer at 213-2474.
  • Please do not leave trash cans, trash, or debris in any area subject to flooding. Items will float in floodwaters and clog storm drains and stream channels.
  • Sandbags can be obtained on Aztec Street near Frances Short Pond. The sandbag filling area is not manned and residents will need to bring shovels to fill sandbags if there are not pre-made bags available.
  • Contact your property insurance agent to see if a flood insurance policy would help you. Even if you're not in the mapped floodplain, you may be subject to flooding from local drainage.
  • Talk to us about protecting your house or business. There are ways to modify your building to minimize flood damage.
  • The City of Flagstaff operates a small network of radio-telemetered gauges that transmit rainfall and stream flow information in real-time (as it occurs). If you would like to see this information for the various locations in the City, plus the rain gauges in the Schultz burn area, go to our Rain Gauges page
  • View forecasts, watches, and warnings issued by the National Weather Service for Northern Arizona.

Let's make this a safe monsoon season!


Saving Baby Ducks!

June 18, 2018

Eight ducklings were recently rescued from Wildcat Hill Reclamation Plant’s effluent contact basin. As families of ducks move through the area, ducklings often make their way into the effluent water basins, but can’t make it back over the concrete walls without help. Wildcat personnel are on the lookout for them in the facility every spring, checking the basins to ensure no ducks are trapped.  Due to the rapid response of the Wildcat team, all eight ducklings were rescued, released into the Picture Canyon Wetlands, and reunited with their mother.  

Don’t miss the video of the rescue!


2017 Water Quality Report

June 18, 2018

The Annual Water Quality Report for 2017 is now available! You can find the report under "Your Water/Water Quality" on the Water Services Webpage, or by downloading the report.City Water Logo v.3_Color

Want to know more about the report or about water treatment and quality in general? Join us for our next Community Water Forum on Monday, June 25! Regulatory Compliance Manager Steve Camp will be presenting on Flagstaff's water testing and safety. The meeting is from 6 to 7 pm at the Joe C. Montoya Senior Center at Thorpe Park. Bring your questions! Find more Information on the event.

AZ Water Professionals week

Director Brad Hill Wins Environmental Stewardship Award!

We are so proud of our Water Services Director, Brad Hill, who recently received the AZ Water Association’s 2017 Environmental Stewardship Award! The award ceremony, which took place on May 3rd at the annual AZ Water conference in Phoenix, was attended by more than 1,000 water and wastewater professionals. Brad was recognized for several accomplishments — most notably, for his leadership in pursuing a Designation of Adequate Water Supply from the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Without this designation, Flagstaff could keep growing with no legal and physical assurance of a long-term (100-year) water supply. The process required that we evaluate the impacts of groundwater pumping on environmental flows to springs that feed Oak Creek Canyon, among other areas, and to streams such as Clear Creek and Chevelon Creek, which are near and dear to many residents. Learn more about , this designation and what it means for our community. To learn more about Brad’s accomplishments, visit page 2 of the summer Cityscape magazine!

Brads environmental stewardship award

About Our Partnership with the Salt River Project

In Flagstaff, our water supplies are integrally linked to forest conditions. Healthy forests support healthy watersheds and allow our reservoir and aquifers to be “recharged” through rainfall and snowmelt. The City’s Water Services Division understands the importance of the forest–watershed nexus; it has been responsible for quantifying and forecasting water supplies for more than 100 years. Through careful planning and sound management, the Utilities Division has ensured that Flagstaff’s water supplies will last well into the future. However, planning and management require scientific data.

“That’s where a new partnership with the Salt River Project and its state-of-the-art SRP Flowtography® system comes into play,” said Flagstaff City Water Resources Manager Erin Young. “As part of a contract approved earlier this year by the City Council, SRP will monitor and analyze streamflow as part of the Upper Lake Mary Watershed Monitoring Project for many years.”


The largest provider of raw water to the Phoenix metropolitan area, SRP developed the Flowtography® system as a simple, inexpensive way of monitoring stream flow. The technology uses both time-lapse cameras and instream visual staff gauges to document stream flow, snow accumulation, and overall watershed conditions. This new tool has proven valuable to SRP, which captures and manages water that falls on 13,000 square miles of the Salt and Verde River watersheds for use in the Salt River Valley.

Brad Hill, Flagstaff City Water Services Director, supports the monitoring plan. “It is significant that the City and SRP are collaborating to measure the Upper Lake Mary watershed. SRP has been a leader in this type of hydrologic monitoring across northern Arizona for over a century. By partnering with SRP, we’re demonstrating our commitment and long-term stewardship of the watershed to the benefit of all Flagstaff water customers.”

Water Supply Forecasting

This monitoring effort is important because it will provide data that the Water Services Division can use to “calibrate” its watershed model — a key tool for forecasting water supplies — to real-life conditions.

The suppression of forest fires and other influencing factors over the last 100 years has left northern Arizona’s forests choked with trees. As seen in Arizona and across the western U.S., these fires burn far more acres than in the past, at temperatures that are so hot they demolish entire forests, essentially turning the forest floor into concrete — a problem that is compounded when heavy monsoon storms later pound the landscape.

Natural Forest Conditions

Several local initiatives are attempting to restore natural or “pre-settlement” forest conditions by making physical changes to the watershed. One is the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project, which voters overwhelmingly approved after the Schultz Fire in 2010. Two others are the efforts of the Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership (GFFP) and the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI).

“The immediate objectives of these initiatives,” Young said, “is not necessarily the same as ours — maximizing water supply — but by managing the forest to reduce tree density and wildfire damage, all contribute to ensuring we have a clean and reliable supply of water. We are interested in forest treatment and maintenance practices that promote conditions for aquifer recharge, surface runoff to the reservoir, and the maintenance of natural spring flows. Documenting conditions until we’ve got enough information to calibrate a watershed model will be essential to understanding the various forest conditions that benefit water supply.”

Streamflow Gauges

Traditional methods such as a streamflow gauge provide great information. However, Young said, without photographic documentation, it’s often hard to know if some of the data points we see are anomalous. SRP’s Flowtography® technology helps to answer these questions by providing a photo as evidence.

The benefit of working with SRP is that it will provide equipment, servicing, and image processing of the photos for Flagstaff. Much of this information will be available to the public.


Flagstaff is already benefiting from this partnership with SRP. In the first month of Flowtography® use, nearly 600 images have been collected daily from locations across the Upper Lake Mary Watershed. These images have been sifted through by sophisticated photo processing software, quality checked by staff, and used to report runoff events to the City.

Other organizations involved in the monitoring program include Northern Arizona University, the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station, Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project, National Park Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey.

More Information

For more information, contact SRP Media Relations Representative, Jeff Lane, at 602-236-2500 or email Jeff Lane and City of Flagstaff Water Resource Manager, Erin Young, at 928-213-2405 or email Erin Young.


The Water Spigot Located near the Inner Basin Cabin Has Been Removed & Permanently Closed

Water serving this spigot originates from springs and shallow wells in the Inner Basin and is not treated. The State of Arizona has determined that this water source requires routine testing and treatment before distribution to the public. The City of Flagstaff has evaluated treatment options, such as filtration and disinfection, however they are not practical nor feasible in a remote location such as the Inner Basin. To remain in compliance with all federal and state water quality rules and regulations, the City will permanently disconnect this water supply. We are exploring options to provide a raw water supply that the public can subsequently treat or filter for their use while hiking in the Inner Basin. We will keep the public updated on the status of these other water supply options via future social media posts.

The City suggests that bicyclists and hikers take sufficient water for their needs and treat any water sources found in the San Francisco Peaks as they would with water sources found elsewhere in the backcountry.