By Matt Roy, Independent Newsmedia
Surprise voters last night approved city plans to purchase a water company from a neighboring community.
With 18,319 mail-in ballots cast, four-out-of-five participants in the May 15 municipal election supported a measure, which empowers Surprise City Council to move forward with negotiations to purchase Circle City Water Company.
According data presented by city staffers during a November 2017 presentation, the small water company currently serves only 168 customers in the rural community of Circle City, which lies 14 northwest of Surprise along U.S. 60.
The purchase will add 3,932 acre-feet per year to Surprise’s allocation of Colorado River surface water pumped from Central Arizona Project canals.
An acre foot is the quantity of water needed to cover a square acre of land with one foot of water and equates to nearly 326,000 gallons.
Based on Arizona Department of Water Resources estimates for per-resident use of 100 gallons-per-day, the additional allocation – which increases Surprise’s supply by 38 percent – would be enough to support nearly 35,000 future residents.
The water purchase, estimated in some reports to likely run into the tens of millions of dollars, will be offset by sales of existing and future water assets and cost Surprise residents nothing, according to city leaders.
Turnout for the special election exceeded 26 percent of the more than 70,000 registered voters in Surprise. Official results are due from the county recorder by Friday, May 18.
The previous ballot-by-mail election – the November 2017 general obligation bond election, which was approved with a 53 percent “Yes” vote – drew 23,358 voters.