Well failure leaves many residents with little or no water (July 12, 2022)

BULLHEAD CITY — Failure of one of Bullhead City’s highest-producing wells over the weekend left many residents and business owners with little water pressure or none at all by Monday.

Bullhead City Utilities Director Mark Clark said the city’s well 16-1, near the intersection of Sierra Vista and Mesa Vista drives northeast of the City Square shopping center, quit producing adequate water supply to feed the system that serves a wide swath of central Bullhead City.

City crews were working on a short-term fix, bringing another nearby well up to full service to eventually feed the system supplied by 16-1.

Residents and businesses closest to the affected system were expected to have normal or near-normal water service by late Monday. Other areas should see a marked improvement in water pressure this morning.

We’ve got to refill everything, Clark said.

Well 16-1 has two storage tanks with a combined capacity of 1.5 million gallons.

Clark and Water Manager Cory Hinkle said Monday afternoon they weren’t sure how much water remained in those massive tanks.

Clark said a long-term fix will begin today with a contractor pulling the well to determine where and why it failed.

Clark said the pump serving the well is about 30 years old; the last major work at the well, called the second-best producer among more than a dozen wells operating in the city, was 20 years ago.

The problem with diagnosing why a well failed is that most of the components that could fail are 250 feet deep or more, Clark said.

He said monitors on the surface provide amperage readings and other information that could indicate a problem, but when the well production begins to decrease, signifying a problem with a pump or the main column pipe, it requires a dismantling of many of the pieces to find the problem.

We’ll know then what we need to do to get it back in service, Clark said.

A longer-term solution involved planned redundancy and additional wells. Clark said requests for that already were scheduled to go before the Bullhead City Council later this year.

Clark said it was the fifth well failure since the city took over operation of EPCOR Water Arizona’s systems serving Bullhead City.

We need more redundancy in the system, Clark said. That way, when a well goes out — and wells will go out, as we’ve learned — there is another that we can put online immediately.

Instead, there are few interconnections in the network of neighborhood wells, storage facilities, mains and pipes.

It’s simply an old system showing its age, Bullhead City Manager Toby Cotter said, emphasizing that if EPCOR still owned the system, this still would have happened.

Clark said new wells are planned in the future, but that does little to ease the pain felt by residents over the weekend and into Monday.

It would have to happen on one of our hottest days, Clark said as the temperature hit 115 Monday afternoon.

The area impacted stretched from Ramar Road to North Oatman Road, east of Highway 95.

A number of businesses — including restaurants — suffered through the day with little or no water available. Some reduced services or closed early while others adapted their operations as best they could.

Residents had varying degrees of difficulty.

Some had low water pressure — and therefore slow delivery of water through their pipes, toilets and faucets — while others reported having no water at all.

Our crews have been working feverishly to get a resolution to get people their water back, Clark said. Unfortunately, it takes time to fill the system to get the pressure built back up.

Source: Bill McMillen, Mohave Valley Daily News