hot springs in chandler??? damn right

Chandler's in hot water, and lovin' it But some claim drinking, wash water too warm

Edythe Jensen The Arizona Republic Mar. 16, 2006 12:00 AM

An underground hot spring Chandler has tapped into at its newest well site has some residents complaining about 100-degree tap water and shrinking laundry.

But city officials say the new well near Lindsay and Riggs roads is producing water of such high quality - and so much of it - the city could stand to save millions of dollars by delaying the need for future drilling.

It's unclear how many homes in the immediate area are affected, but people closest to the well are experiencing the unusually hot tap water.

"I've had a few clothes shrink and the water isn't cool enough for my blue jeans," said Mary Sluzas, 54,who lives in Springfield Lakes. "I've started putting ice cubes in the washing machine."

Sun Groves resident Gary Graham, 64, said he is worried that the hot water would kill delicate plants.

"I called the city because I thought the builder must have put the pipes in wrong," he said.

Officials assured them and other residents at a meeting last month that the water is safe for humans and not too hot for plants.

"I was impressed with the city's response; they even came out and tested my water," Sluzas said.

What they found, said Assistant Public Works Director Bob Mulvey, is water of such high quality that it tastes good and is less damaging to household plumbing than most Valley water. Mineral content, which causes the Valley water's "hardness" and corrodes plumbing, is a fraction of what it is in the rest of the city, Mulvey said. And arsenic levels are so low that the city doesn't have to treat the water to meet strict federal standards.

The inconvenience is temporary. As the city grows and more pipelines are installed, water from this natural hot spring will be mixed with other sources and cooled before it's delivered to increasing numbers of homes, Mulvey said.

The best thing about the new well is it produces 3 million gallons a day, three times the quantity produced by the average city well, Mulvey said. That's a $4 million benefit to taxpayers because the city won't have to drill two more wells at a cost of $2 million each to meet the demands of a growing population, he said.

A geology expert said Chandler could potentially tap the geothermal spring for energy.

Tempe energy consultant Amanda Ormond, who is working with Northern Arizona University to map the state's geothermal sites, said the phenomenon stands to help cities and business create low-cost energy.

"It's a renewable energy source and systems to use it aren't very sophisticated; it's not rocket science," she said.

Ormond said she plans to contact Mulvey with information about available energy grants that could help Chandler use its naturally hot water to heat government buildings and schools or create fish farms.

Natural "hot springs" are common throughout Arizona but often aren't found in cities before streets and homes are built on top of them. South Scottsdale sits atop a prime spring "but now it's paved over," she said.

"A lot of Arizona farmers had hot water on their property but didn't think they could do anything with it," Ormond said.

Sluzas said she was able to adjust her water softener and save on electricity thanks to lower demands on her water heater. And Graham said he feels better knowing he doesn't have a household plumbing problem.

"The hot water is a nuisance sometimes, but it's not going to burn you," he said.

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