Tucson Water Turnaround Transforms Crisis Into Success


Premier Water Technologies, Minnesota

Coauthor: Marie S. Pearthree

Twenty-two years before the tragedy in Flint, Michigan, the water department for Tucson, Arizona, (Tucson Water) began delivery of a new water supply: treated surface water from the Central Arizona Project (CAP). The new supply caused a devastating corrosion problem that resulted in red, orange, yellow and brown water flowing from customer taps.

This book presents the results of an exhaustive investigation into the debacle and chronicles how Tucson Water changed its management practices, restored its lost credibility, ended over pumping of its groundwater and created a sustainable water supply for its service area.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 October Surprise for Tucson

Chapter 2 Water in the Sonoran Desert

Chapter 3 Extending the Straw to Tucson

Chapter 4 Selling the New Water Supply

Chapter 5 Designing Treatment for CAP Water

Chapter 6 Distribution System Woes

Chapter 7 Hayden-Udall Water Treatment Facility Operations

Chapter 8 Debacle Begins

Chapter 9 Wake-Up Calls

Chapter 10 Initial Efforts to Control the Problem

Chapter 11 Bifurcation to Abandonment

Chapter 12 Moving Beyond CAP Direct Delivery

Chapter 13 Searching for Solutions

Chapter 14 Putting Customers First

Chapter 15 "At the Tap" Meets a New Leader

Chapter 16 Turnaround and Success

Chapter 17 Epilogue

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This [book] was very easy to read and…so interesting and compelling that I literally found it difficult to put it down.

Water utility manager and consultant

This is more than a story about a water utility and how it confronted a water quality problem. It’s about organizational mismanagement, crisis management, customer relations, and politics.

Joseph Bernosky, Director of the Water and Power Department, Loveland, Colorado

It’s a tale of stunningly poor decision-making, rife with elements that every water utility can identify in its own midst. A perfect storm, perhaps, but also 100% avoidable…

Elisa Speranza, water consultant

…this book should be mandatory reading for all young engineering students who aspire to enter into environmental and process engineering.

Water utility manager and consultant

…the lessons learned should…be made available to any organization that wants to protect and enhance the trust of its customers.

Bruce Johnson, former Tucson Water manager