City eyes water line to spur development west of city

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APEX Motor Club
Construction at APEX Motor Club off State Route 238 at Ralston Road. Photo by Bob McGovern

The city has proposed construction of a major water line originating south of town and traveling west around the Ak-Chin Indian Community and north to State Route 238.

Much of the project would be outside of city limits, but within the Maricopa Planning Area. The water line would cross SR238 into the city near Ralston Road to provide water at the APEX Motor Club. Ralston Road runs uninterrupted from SR238 to south of Ak-Chin.

The project could spur significant development in unincorporated Pinal County west of the city.

As proposed, the line would start at Global Water’s soon-to-be-resurrected Southwest Water Treatment Plant, built in the mid-2000s at the Rancho Mirage subdivision. At the time, residential development was anticipated south of Ak-Chin lands. When Global Water agreed to provide service, the Arizona Corporation Commission required it to build the $32.8 million plant, but development in the area was sunk during the Financial Crisis of 2007-2008.

The timing, routing and scope of the project will be determined if it is part of the annual budget finalized by the city next month. But City Manager Rick Horst has characterized the project as an ideal use for part of the $12.44 million in federal stimulus funds the city will receive through the American Rescue Plan Act.

If greenlighted, the city would begin working with Global Water to plan, design and build the line.

“Regardless of how you feel about the large amount of money that taxpayers are going to be paying (for the stimulus) over the next few generations, it would disadvantage our citizens to not accept that money,” he said. “The only return we’re going to get since we’re going to pay for it (the stimulus) no matter what, is to bring something in that will benefit our community, thus not increasing taxes somewhere else.”

The city has already allocated about $6 million of the surplus to projects intended to alleviate traffic issues around the city, primarily at the intersection of John Wayne Parkway and Smith-Enke Road.

‘IT ALL STARTS WITH INFRASTRUCTURE’

The balance of the stimulus, about $6 million, is earmarked for the water line project, which is expected to cost about $10 million. The city hopes a $3.5 million grant from Arizona’s Water Resources Development Act will help pay for the project.

“Our goal is to build infrastructure projects the entire community can benefit from,” he said. “Without utilities you can’t build homes, and without homes you can’t increase the population and without the population you can’t get the stores, restaurants, hospitals and all the kinds of services you want. It all starts with infrastructure. Unless we put in the bones, the skeleton, none of the rest of this really matters.”

Water bills would not increase due to the project, Horst said.

“So, you’ll save money and have less of a water bill, plus we’re not going to be spending your tax dollars to build it – well we are, because it’s federal tax dollars – but we’re not going to double dip you,” he said. “We can’t control what those guys do in Washington, but we can sure as heck control what happens here.”

Global Water Rancho Mirage
Global Water’s plant in Rancho Mirage. Photo by Mason Callejas

APEX has been a major driving force to get water into west Maricopa. The club is developing a facility that includes a track for high-end sports cars and a clubhouse, but with bigger plans that have been public for years.

The lack of water and sewer service held up plans on the development for months. APEX has sought a connection to Global Water via extension of a 16-inch water main that ends at SR238 and Loma Road.

But westward extension of that water line would require crossing Ak-Chin land at the Southern Dunes Golf Club, and thus approval of easements and permits from the Ak-Chin community and reams of Bureau of Indian Affairs paperwork at the federal level. That approval never came.

Now, as construction continues on a car storage facility as part of APEX’s grand plan for the site, it appears water could arrive from the south.