Garrett Goldman and Randy Roberson Discuss New Chaparral Pines Lift Station
KRIM Community Spotlight: Aired Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Host, Randy Roberson and guest, Garrett Goldman discuss the major improvements made to Green Valley Water’s Chaparral Pines Three lift station.
Green Valley Water is a proud sponsor of KRIM
KRIM’s Community Spotlight, hosted by Randy Roberson, offers listeners insight into local people, businesses, organizations, and what is happening in the Town of Payson and surrounding areas. Tune in to KRIM’s Community Spotlight on weekdays at 10:00 am or watch it on the KRIM-FM Facebook Page.
Interested in a Public Tour of Green Valley Water’s Facility?
Read the Transcript
Randy Roberson (00:04):
Good Tuesday morning, two minutes past 10 o’clock, and we’re already up to 75 degrees. And this morning on KRIM’s Community Spotlight talking about Green Valley Water. And they have, well, another interesting, as they always do, a lot of different things going on all the time, but kind of a milestone of sorts, I think, taking place right now that we want to find out a little bit more about. And Green. Valley Water used to be the Northern Gila County Sanitary District, just in case you’re not familiar with the name change. But with us, their district manager, Garrett Goldman, to tell us a little bit about this. And what you have going on right now, started about 25 years ago, right?
Garrett Goldman (00:47):
Yeah, it started 25 years ago with the development of Chaparral Pines and the whole Chaparral Pines area. So as you top over the hill like you’re heading down to Star Valley, that does not follow gravity to our treatment plant. So we had installed a series of lift stations, which are just pumps and bolts, to, I guess, push the flow up over the hill so then it could follow gravity down to the treatment plan.
Randy Roberson (01:14):
And these pumps, this services what areas?
Garrett Goldman (01:19):
It services Chaparral Pines, The Rim, Highlands at The Rim, and pretty much the whole Tyler Parkway corridor up to Underwood Lane.
Randy Roberson (01:28):
Wow, interesting. And so without this pump, obviously, as you say, the stuff wouldn’t flow downhill, and so the pumps have been there operational though for 25 years?
Garrett Goldman (01:39):
25 years. The Chaparral Pines lift station number three, which is the one we’re working on, actually became active in 1996.
Randy Roberson (01:47):
Right, wow. And so what’s happening now? Is this a matter of that stuff’s old and antiquated or worn out and then having to be replaced? Or what are you up to?
Garrett Goldman (01:56):
It’s a combination of that. When you design something like it generally has about a 20-year life span. We got 25 years out of it. It was time to replace the equipment in it. And then also, some of the technologies that were used back in 1996, no longer work very well with the habits of people today. So the amount of sanitary wipes that are actually being used in the system, and I heard a quote, this has been a couple of years ago, that more sanitary wipes are sold for non-baby purposes now than for baby purposes.
Randy Roberson (02:34):
Oh, wow, interesting.
Garrett Goldman (02:35):
Yeah, so unfortunately those hit the sewer system, they should not be in the sewer, but getting people to change their habits is difficult. They were causing major issues. A lot of call-outs with our on-call personnel having to respond to clogged priming tubes and pumps in the middle of the night. So the new lift station will hopefully eliminate all of that.
Randy Roberson (02:59):
And prior to this new lift station going in, they were having to just manually go in and unclog this stuff.
Garrett Goldman (03:05):
Yeah, and fortunately, the way it was designed previously was everything was above ground. So you were able to not have to climb down in the hole to do this, but still, it required personnel to respond to go out there, get it unclogged, make sure it’s still running. And that takes time and ultimately money.
Randy Roberson (03:27):
Chris Higgins and I were treated to a tour of Green Valley Water plant out there, west of the golf course, here a month or so ago. And it’s an amazing facility if you’ve never been out there. I know you offer tours out there for anyone that’s interested in taking a look. And the science behind it is really pretty fascinating, but something as simple as the sanitary wipes really throws a curveball into the whole thing.
Garrett Goldman (03:54):
Oh, it does, it affects everything from the time it leaves your toilet and goes into the collection system, all the way to the tail end of the treatment plant.
Randy Roberson (04:05):
And that’s what we’re here to do today is address the bottom line. And the bottom line here is that this new lift station now is already operational?
Garrett Goldman (04:15):
We are in the testing phase with it right now, so it has been operational for about a week and a half.
Randy Roberson (04:21):
Now, you mentioned, prior to going on the air today, you mentioned some numbers about how much stuff this pump pumps in the course of a day. And I have to say, I found it astounding.
Garrett Goldman (04:35):
Yeah. So in the first week of it being operational in the testing phase here, we pumped over three-quarters of a million gallons of sewage from that Tyler Parkway corridor out there.
Randy Roberson (04:46):
And now, was this a matter of just switching out the pumps and stuff? Is that the base… Is it a redesign?
Garrett Goldman (04:53):
This one is a redesign, we actually had a really unique situation of where we had enough room to be able to build a brand new lift station right next to the old lift station and keep the old lift station operational while we were constructing the new one. And then it was a matter of twisting three valves and we could convert over to the new lift station. Saved a tremendous amount of money doing that because if you had to take the old one out of service while you were reconstructing it, you would have had to do a pump bypass and that is not cheap. This project’s been going now for almost seven months and we would have had to bypass that entire time.
Randy Roberson (05:34):
And again, that serves a pretty significant area out there, Chaparral Pines and The Rim Club and all the associated stuff around there. And you were involved in this 25 years ago when it first was put together.
Garrett Goldman (05:46):
Yes. It’s not very often that you get the chance to come back on a project that you did 25 years ago as a brand new engineer. This was one of the first projects that I was involved in, in civil engineering. And so, I look at it now, I walk out on site, and I think all of us with experience do this, is you’re like, “What was I thinking at that point?” So it’s really neat to be able to come back and to say, “Okay, we know that this didn’t quite work like we thought it would, and now we’re going to upgrade it, and we’re going to make it to the best that we can today.”
Randy Roberson (06:22):
Hindsight’s always 20/20.
Garrett Goldman (06:23):
Randy Roberson (06:24):
But it has to be interesting, 25 years later to revisit it all over again, it’s got to be gratifying in different ways.
Garrett Goldman (06:30):
It is, yeah, it definitely is. And it helped a lot in the design of the lift station because I was involved in that pretty heavily, and understanding what we did back then and how we can make it better today.
Randy Roberson (06:45):
Now, back then, was that a pretty much a state-of-the-art bit of technology that wasn’t that terribly old?
Garrett Goldman (06:54):
Yeah, it was state-of-the-art when it was put in, but a lot’s changed over 25 years.
Randy Roberson (06:58):
Oh, I bet, yeah, like everything. And to begin with, I remember before Chap Pines and The Rim Club went in, that’s a chunk of woods out there that I used to frequent quite a bit. But there’s been more and more infill, property sold, and things like that, so I would imagine the demand is significantly higher now than it was 25 years ago too.
Garrett Goldman (07:22):
Yes, the original lift station was designed to be able to be added on to, as the area developed. For the new lift station that we have, we will not need to upgrade that lift station as development occurs in that corridor now.
Randy Roberson (07:38):
Wow, very cool. Now, as far as this particular lift station, you have a special event coming up on October 1st that has specifically to do with this.
Garrett Goldman (07:52):
Yeah, we’re going to be doing a ribbon cutting out there with our board of directors. And this is a fairly big investment for us. It is coming out of what we call the facilities equipment replacement and reserve fund. And that’s a fund that we actually maintain to be able to upgrade existing facilities so that they will work for, not just a couple of years down the road, but for generations to come.
Randy Roberson (08:17):
Right, keep everything flowing, that makes sense. No, but you’re going to have a big ribbon cutting?
Garrett Goldman (08:21):
We are going to have a ribbon cutting on October 1st out there.
Randy Roberson (08:24):
And is that everybody and their brother showing up to that, or how are you publicizing that?
Garrett Goldman (08:30):
We’re not really publicizing that, it’s going to be mostly for the board of directors, but if people do want to show up, parking’s a little bit limited out there, we welcome you to come out.
Randy Roberson (08:42):
But this is a big milestone.
Garrett Goldman (08:43):
It is a big milestone for us.
Randy Roberson (08:45):
It’s very interesting. Now, I also understand that your administrative offices are going to be closed this coming weekend, right?
Garrett Goldman (08:55):
Yes. Now, that’s another big project that we have going on.
Randy Roberson (08:58):
Garrett Goldman (09:00):
Our billing software, we are actually upgrading that. The existing billing software that we have is about 20 years old.
Randy Roberson (09:07):
And when it comes to software, talk about antiquated. How many people are using 20-year-old software on much of anything?
Garrett Goldman (09:12):
Yeah. You have to know how to program in DOS.
Randy Roberson (09:16):
Oh yeah, I remember those days.
Garrett Goldman (09:17):
Yes. So this has been about a year-long project and we are going to be going live with that new software on Monday the 27th. So as part of the transition period, we are going to be closing the office on Friday the 24th and Monday the 27th, to facilitate switching over to the new software.
Randy Roberson (09:40):
What difference will be noticed by your customers?
Garrett Goldman (09:43):
Well, we will have an increased or a more sophisticated customer portal. Right now, in our customer portal, you can’t get very much information about your account. You can’t change anything, email addresses, phone numbers, that kind of stuff. The new customer portal will allow you to do that. And it will also give you history. It will show you the payment history. So there’s going to be a lot more information available, a lot easier to navigate than what we have right now.
Randy Roberson (10:11):
Sounds good. Now, I want to go back and talk for a second about the tour that you offered us here recently. That plant, out there west of the golf course, I remember back a million years ago, that was very much state-of-the-art and it looks like it still is today.
Garrett Goldman (10:31):
Well, it has seen a lot of upgrades over what was put in, in 1983, the current version of it. And we’re continually doing stuff on it, keeping up with technology.
Randy Roberson (10:44):
Fascinating. Between the water department with the town and the sanitary district or the Green Valley Water company, there is some amazing science and technology going on. And I think unless someone goes out to the plant, you might not realize just how intriguing it is. Now, one of the things that I was really blessed by, when I was out there, was the fact that you’re not really using those sludge beds anymore to dry solids out.
Garrett Goldman (11:15):
No, we have changed technologies on them.
Randy Roberson (11:19):
It’s a lot less aromatic out in that area than it used to be.
Garrett Goldman (11:23):
If you remember back in the mid-’80s, when you drove down Doll Baby Road, you had to plug your nose. That no longer is the case. Again, with upgraded technology, we have a different way of getting rid of the sludge.
Randy Roberson (11:33):
Right. And roughly, when it comes to in Payson, what? Officially, we’ve got a population of about 16,000 people. What’s the daily average flow in and out of the sewage treatment plant?
Garrett Goldman (11:49):
So right now, we see about a million gallons a day, give or take a little bit. When it rains, we see a little bit more coming into the system, but a million gallons a day during dry weather.
Randy Roberson (12:00):
And from the time the raw sewage comes to you until you’re pumping out nice clean water to Green Valley Park, how long does that process take?
Garrett Goldman (12:11):
About 24 hours.
Randy Roberson (12:12):
Just 24 hours?
Garrett Goldman (12:16):
Randy Roberson (12:17):
And it’s not just filters that are filtering stuff out, there’s a lot of chemistry involved.
Garrett Goldman (12:22):
Biology. A lot of biology. We are a biological plant. We don’t use any chemicals in the treatment process itself. So we call ourselves bacteria ranchers because the bacteria in the system actually do the work. They’re the ones who clean the water so that it can be delivered back up to Green Valley.
Randy Roberson (12:44):
And it’s amazing that all can take place in 24 hours. You’ve got a vast number of bugs.
Garrett Goldman (12:53):
At any given time, we’re carrying about 50,000 pounds of bugs in the treatment system.
Randy Roberson (12:59):
And, of course, we’re talking to microscopic stuff here. Fascinating. Now, are there other treatment plants like this around Arizona?
Garrett Goldman (13:07):
Oh yeah, pretty much every treatment plant that you see today is going to be some version of what we have. There are no two treatment plants that are the same, but they use the same basic methodology to clean the water.
Randy Roberson (13:22):
One of the things that I thought, at least back in the day originally, was that it was profoundly intriguing was that we could even be taking this water and pumping it back down into aquifers and storing it underground. And obviously, the water is clean enough to have that all make perfect sense. That wasn’t being done in too many places before this plant went in, was it?
Garrett Goldman (13:51):
No, that wasn’t. The technology had not gotten there at that point. And, in fact, we don’t actually directly discharge back into the aquifer. We do a passive discharge through Green Valley Lake, so whatever naturally percolates into the ground there. But it does find its way back into the aquifer.
Randy Roberson (14:10):
And do they, I’m assuming, and of course, you know what they say about that, but I’m assuming that they’re keeping track of, the water department or whomever, are keeping track of the static water level of [crosstalk 00:14:21].
Garrett Goldman (14:22):
Yeah, the water department has a sophisticated system also, and part of that is that they do to keep track of the levels.
Randy Roberson (14:29):
I had also a wonderful opportunity to get a tour of that new plant out there by Mesa del Caballo; Buzz Walker gave me a tour in there. And that’s an amazing bit of science out there as well.
Garrett Goldman (14:41):
Yes, it is.
Randy Roberson (14:42):
People owe it to themselves to learn more about this stuff because it’s certainly making a big difference. Now, with other facilities like Green Valley Water, when it comes to sewage treatment, are most everyone now doing these same kinds of things as we do with Green Valley Lake, as far as the reuse of fluid going into a lake and recharging aquifers? Or is that still a not widely done approach?
Garrett Goldman (15:10):
Well, it is getting more and more popular. Water is an asset. And just to release it to go down the stream, that doesn’t do your customer base any good. So like what we do, we deliver water back up to Green Valley Lakes, and then from Green Valley Lakes, we pump that water to our reuse customers. So the golf courses, all three of them, get water with our water.
Randy Roberson (15:34):
And the high school ball fields too.
Garrett Goldman (15:35):
High school ball fields all are watered with our water.
Randy Roberson (15:38):
It makes so much sense, especially with the golf courses and with the ball fields. I don’t recall the numbers off the top of my head, but here in Arizona where it gets really warm, there’s a lot of, what? Transevaporation happens where you’re losing an awful lot of water, just in the lawn itself. So why not use reused effluent? It seems like a perfect solution.
Garrett Goldman (16:05):
Well, every drop of reuse water that’s put on the fields or the golf courses is one less drop that has to come out of the ground.
Randy Roberson (16:13):
It makes sense. And so now, all in all, with the plant out here at the west of town, in rough numbers, what kind of money is involved in that plant? Because I have a feeling it’s going to be an astounding number.
Garrett Goldman (16:26):
Well, we, on our books, right now, have about $65 million of assets on the books.
Randy Roberson (16:33):
Wow, that’s impressive. And most of that’s been since the early ’80s.
Garrett Goldman (16:37):
Randy Roberson (16:38):
But also, as you mentioned earlier, you folks are always keeping everything maintained and looking ahead, not waiting for things to break down, but hopefully addressing that proactively.
Garrett Goldman (16:49):
Well, it’s a lot less money to address it proactively than it is reactively.
Randy Roberson (16:54):
Now, when it comes to the Green Valley Lakes, are there different times of the year where that’s more of a challenge as far as algae growth or different things? Are there other types of things like that that you have to contend with?
Garrett Goldman (17:08):
Well, so we’re under permit by ADEQ. We have very strict requirements for what we can deliver up to Green Valley Lakes. Once it hits the lakes, it becomes the water department’s water at that point. So they maintain, the water quality there, we do work with them closely to make sure that we’re not putting excess nutrients in the water that would promote algae growth. But it’s continual, during the summer months, they have to stay on top of it.
Randy Roberson (17:36):
And so, with the fact that there’s fish in the lakes and stuff like that, then even… Excuse me. On your discharge, you even have to be looking at the pH level of the water and things like that.
Garrett Goldman (17:49):
Yeah, pH level; nutrient levels; turbidity, which is how cloudy the water is, we have pretty tight restrictions on them. And we actually just went through a review with ADEQ, regarding our water going to the lakes. And there were no issues at all with them.
Randy Roberson (18:08):
Beautiful. Wow. I’m intrigued because there’s so much science going on there that it’s easy for people to just not to think about what all’s going on down there, but it’s really pretty remarkable. And especially being able to reuse it in a place like Arizona, where water is a pretty finite resource. To be sitting here in Payson and feel like we’ve got not only the water from up on top of The Rim, from the C.C. Cragin Reservoir but also this reuse thing. It’s a pretty progressive focus for just a small, rural town.
Garrett Goldman (18:42):
Well, I would put both our system and the town of Payson’s water department system up against any other system in the state, both in complexity and also how well run they are.
Randy Roberson (18:57):
About how many people work out at the plant?
Garrett Goldman (19:00):
Oh, we have 24.
Randy Roberson (19:01):
Yeah? And so, you have people there 24 hours a day?
Garrett Goldman (19:04):
Randy Roberson (19:05):
Hopefully not, anyway.
Garrett Goldman (19:07):
And again, thanks to technology, we are staffed from about 6:00 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon, seven days a week. But in those after-hours times, the [Skatis 00:19:21] system, which is our computer system that monitors everything, you have limits put in there. And if something goes out of the limit, it makes a phone call to a person on call, and then they address it.
Randy Roberson (19:35):
Very interesting. And I’ve known a number of folks that have worked out there in the past and a lot of people have been there for quite a while. You find the right people and you hang on to them.
Garrett Goldman (19:43):
Yeah. It’s a good place to work. We have one gentleman that’s been there for 37 years.
Randy Roberson (19:48):
He’s probably starting to get the hang of things.
Garrett Goldman (19:49):
Yeah, he’s getting there.
Randy Roberson (19:52):
Wow. Now again, if you have an interest in taking a tour of the plant, I think you’ll find it fascinating, I know I did, how do people get with you to be able to do something like that?
Garrett Goldman (20:06):
Well, on our website, greenvalleywater.org, there’s a link there to take a tour. We have regularly scheduled tours. I think they’re on the second Wednesday of every month, first or second. But if that doesn’t work for you, call the office and we will set up a tour time that does work for you.
Randy Roberson (20:25):
And tours last typically about how long?
Garrett Goldman (20:28):
About an hour and a half to two hours depending on how many questions you ask.
Randy Roberson (20:32):
And there’s a bunch of things that are interesting to find out about there. And now, prior to the early ’80s, when everything changed here, what was Payson doing then as far as sewage treatment?
Garrett Goldman (20:42):
Well, it was originally called the Payson Sanitary District; it was established in 1965. And when you look back on the original documents, it was by a petition of the majority of the residents at that time for the health of the community, because it was all on septic systems. And the first actual treatment plant, and then collection system, was constructed in the early ’70s. And then that quickly… Growth came and it overwhelmed the treatment plant. And so the current technology was instituted in 1983.
Randy Roberson (21:23):
I think when I first moved here in ’81, there was a population of about 5,000, and now we’re up to 16,000. So just to be able to ride that wave, so to speak, had to be quite a task. That’s an awful lot of growth in a relatively short period of time.
Garrett Goldman (21:39):
It is, but we do maintain a master plan of our entire boundary. And so we’re always looking out to the future. We do not want to be the bottleneck for development or growth. So right now, our plant is actually built to take the entire development of our boundaries as they exist today.
Randy Roberson (22:00):
Interesting. And again, if you want to find out more, you can just go online to greenvalleywater.org, and we’ll have more updates for you on what’s going on. Again, this… What was the date again? October 1st, Friday, October 1st. I know we’ll be out there to get a little bit of some photos and video of the ribbon-cutting. But how long have you been working on this new lift station?
Garrett Goldman (22:25):
This has been about a two-year project from design to completion of construction.
Randy Roberson (22:31):
I’m just curious when it comes to that because I think that’s a big point. Out of those two years, how much of that was spent in design?
Garrett Goldman (22:40):
Well, in really intense design, it was about a six-month project. We started talking about it two years ago, got preliminary designs done, cost estimates, and then we went into a final design about this time last year.
Randy Roberson (22:55):
And on the actual construction of that, is that something that you sub out to a company that specializes in that or do you do that in-house?
Garrett Goldman (23:03):
No, we definitely sub that out. We go out to public bid, get the best bid that we can with a qualified contractor, and then they do the work, which we oversee.
Randy Roberson (23:13):
That’s just amazing stuff. I think again if you’re even remotely interested, you owe it to yourself to go out there and talk to the folks at the Green Valley Water in that it’s an amazing plant and it’s just some fantastic science that has grown right along with Payson. You guys are doing a great job.
Garrett Goldman (23:33):
Well, thank you.
Randy Roberson (23:34):
You bet. Thank you for being here this morning, we appreciate it. And we’ll have more for you on this as we get a little closer to October 1st as well. And don’t forget as well, I want to repeat one more time, that Green Valley Water’s offices will be closed this Friday through next Monday as they put in that new computer system. So good luck with all that too.
Garrett Goldman (23:53):
Randy Roberson (23:54):
That’s always a fun challenge.
Garrett Goldman (23:56):
Yes, it is.
Randy Roberson (23:57):
And I use the word fun there in place of other words that probably make more sense. Anyway, once again, want to say thanks to the district manager, Garrett Goldman from Green Valley Water. And I want to appreciate you and thank you for tuning in and listening this morning to Community Spotlight on KRIM. Going to get you back to more of your favorite music; I have some tunes coming up from Paul Simon, Albert Hammond, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Sheryl Crow, and a whole bunch more. But first, a quick look at Rim Country weather.
Randy Roberson (24:28):
Do you guys like that?
Garrett Goldman (24:28):
Wow, fastest half-hour of the day.