Longtime city employee oversees 3 water facilities SanTan Sun News

Longtime city employee oversees 3 water facilities

Longtime city employee oversees 3 water facilities
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By the City of Chandler

Coasting not an option for John Pinkston, Chandler’s wastewater facilities manager during city’s journey towards water self-sufficiency.

Chandler achieved its 100-year “assured water supply” designation from the state by securing water from multiple sources, including the Colorado, Salt and Verde rivers, existing groundwater and by developing an extensive reclaimed water system.

That reclaimed water program has given Chandler the resources and flexibility to serve existing customers, support future growth and enter into groundbreaking agreements, like those with the Gila River Indian Community, that support tribal agricultural development in return for Central Arizona Project water supplies.

The city currently relies on three facilities to treat and reclaim wastewater for additional uses; the Airport Water Reclamation Facility at McQueen and Queen Creek roads, the Ocotillo Water Reclamation Facility at Queen Creek and Old Price roads and the Lone Butte Water Reclamation Facility on the GRIC tribal land south of Ahwatukee.

Pinkston oversees operations at all three sites.

As a 22-year city employee, he has been an important member of the public works and utilities team that over many decades designed and built the reclaimed water system that continues to be crucial to Chandler’s economic success.

“Chandler is a progressive community because we focus on innovation, efficiency and long-term planning. That’s why Chandler is further ahead in the reclaimed water game than most cities,” Pinkston said, adding:

“Very few communities are as committed as we have been in our quest to protect our water resources now and in the future.”

The city treats an average of 30 million gallons of wastewater every day, turning it into Class A-plus reclaimed water — the highest level of quality — that is safe for many uses. Pinkston gets a sense of fulfillment from providing this service to the people of Chandler.

“We’re taking a harmful product — raw wastewater — and turning it into a benefit, a valuable resource that goes to South Chandler HOAs, parks, schools, golf courses, lakes, industrial customers, GRIC farms and to recharge our aquifers,” Pinkston said.

The treated water that isn’t used every day by the city’s nearly 400 reclaimed water customers is either sent to surface ponds at Veterans Oasis Park — where it provides a habitat for wildlife while slowly percolating into the aquifer — or it is sent to 20 aquifer storage and recovery wells at several locations around the city.

The Class A-plus water is injected several hundred feet below the surface and into the water table, where natural filtering processes over time and distance make the water suitable for pumping out as a drinking water source.

“You shouldn’t drink or swim in reclaimed water, but it’s safe for irrigation and for injecting into our 20 recharge wells, which helps us save and replenish our drinking water supply,” Pinkston added.

In his free time, Pinkston is an avid hiker and bicyclist. Back in 2012, he was hiking an average of nearly 8 miles a day (with an elevation change of 2,200 feet per day), but the treks took a toll on his knees and he switched to bicycling every day.

“I haven’t driven to work in five years,” he said with pride about his daily 20-mile round-trip commute.

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