Council approves water utilities upgrades (May 4, 2022)

BULLHEAD CITY — The Bullhead City Council welcomed new council member Juan Lizarraga just in time to approve several upgrades to the city’s water and wastewater utilities.

Three items were unanimously passed by City Council: implementation of supervisory control and data upgrades, purchase of new radios for both systems and a contract for on-call SCADA services.

Several months ago, the city ordered the development of a supervisory control and data acquisition master plan with Southwest Automation Services LLC.

Now that the master plan is completed, the city will be following it to upgrade the recently acquired water utilities.

The SCADA system will automate many operations that are currently manual and notify the system when pieces of both the wastewater and water utilities systems go down.

“The SCADA system is basically the brains of our operation. What it does it will tell the wells when to turn on, when to turn off, it tells the booster pumps when to pressurize the system,” Utilities Director Mark Clark said. “It keeps everything running smoothly.”

Clark assured the public that manual controls will still be available in the event of an emergency.

In particular, the communications parts of the system needed to be upgraded.

“The radios are so old, they don’t even make parts for them anymore,” Clark said. “You salvage parts from one working piece to get another piece working.”

He said when the city budgeted for the current fiscal year, one of the items included replacing the radios for the pre-existing wastewater system.

The budget for upgrading only the wastewater radios was $150,000.

However, it was discovered that the recently acquired EPCOR water utilities system also used the same radios.

“The good thing is … we’ve been able to find a price of just over $100,000 to do both water and wastewater for less than we have budgeted for the wasterwater alone,” Clark said.

Finally, Southwest Automation Services was retained at $82,000 for the first year for on-call maintenance and operation services.

Clark said that the city “has been trying for over a decade” to use a full-time employee for the system, but it is more costly than hiring a contractor.

In total, all three items cost just under half a million dollars.

“Although it’s costly, it’s a great improvement to the system than what we have right now,” Mayor Tom Brady said. “It’s desperately needed for our future.”

The entire SCADA upgrade project aims to be completed with 12 to 18 months.

The council also approved an application to the Bureau of Reclamation for a WaterSMART grant to replace 25 water meters with automated units.

If selected for the grant, Reclamation will pay for 50% of the $207,951 project cost.


Source: Fred Mayson, Mohave Valley Daily News