Monsoon 2022: Potential for more flooding presents threat to northern Arizona town's water supply

The town of Mayer, Arizona is on high alert as the potential for more monsoon weather could impact their water supply.

Town officials are asking their residents, about 2,000, to stay prepared during monsoon season – in more ways than one.

Area officials say water runs off the mountains and into washes, and can flood low-lying areas. There have been a few wildfires in the area, but ever since the Goodwin Fire in 2017, floods have been worse.

"Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn't inform me when she's going to come and drop that much water on us, so it's just luck," said Mardi Befort with the Mayer Domestic Water Improvement District. "It just guesses at this point. Just please be prepared."

Mayer has been hit particularly hard by storms, and the storms have damaged the integrity of a bank near the Big Bug Wash, close to where one main water line is.

"If we get another big rain, it could wash that water line out," said Befort.

The Mayer Domestic Water Improvement District has been working to prevent further damage, but if another significant storm sweeps through the area, there is a possibility that the water line might be taken out, impacting water availability to residents in the area.

Without it, they’ll only have water for a few days.

"It could take a couple of weeks," said Befort. "I believe we have enough pipe to be able to go back in there and replace it, but if I need more than what we have on hand, it could take me a couple of weeks to get that."

Officials are asking locals to prepare by creating and storing an emergency water supply. They say to have at least one gallon of water per person, per day, and to have plenty for pets.

"I pretty much sat out there to make sure if our water line broke, I was there to shut it off," Befort said. "I've had a couple engineers come out and look at it this week. You can’t just go and put more gabion baskets out there. More of the bank has washed away."

The baskets, a cage-like fence with large rocks inside, were put in place with the help of a county grant but were washed away.

Chrystal Kain has lived in Mayer for three years now.

"It probably rained a good two, three hours or something and for that time, it was hard rain," Kain said.

With each storm, she worries the pipeline will collapse and is frustrated with the town.

"Are they trying to rectify before it collapses? And why not, if they’re not," she questioned. "To us, it looks like they’re doing nothing."

Befort says they need to come up with a different plan, and that the town is in discussions with Pioneer Landscape.

"They are going to help us find a way to get the shore built back up," Befort said, adding that the town doesn’t have supplies like large boulders to shore up the bank.

However, the town does have materials in place to fix the pipeline should it collapse.

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Be prepared and stay safe during the monsoon

"Most Valley residents know how quickly and furiously storms can move in and out, bringing strong winds, dust, rain, and flash flooding. These storms can cause interruptions in services, such as water, power, and gas," stated Captain Ashley Losch of the Glendale Fire Department.

GFD reminds residents of ways they can be prepared and stay safe:

  • Have flashlights with extra batteries on hand.
  • Have food that can be prepared without the need for cooking or refrigeration.
  • Have at least one gallon of clean water for each person in the household.
  • Have backup power for anyone requiring power for a medical device.
  • Have backup power for cell phones that do not require charging.
  • Have a first aid kit ready and accessible.
  • Never drive into areas with flowing water; it takes less than 10 inches to wash a car away.
  • Avoid flooded areas, such as washes.
  • If waters are rising, seek higher ground.
  • Do not approach downed power lines, the ground can be energized for up to 200 feet.
  • Keep pets indoors during storms.