Brown Bag Webinar: Tucson Water Turnaround: Crisis to Success
Marie S. Pearthree, Former Deputy General Manager, Central Arizona Project
A corrosive-water debacle in Tucson preceded the lead contamination issues in Flint, MI by over two decades. In 1992, Tucson Water began delivery of Colorado River water from the Central Arizona Project (CAP). Putting treated CAP water into the existing groundwater distribution system caused a devastating corrosion problem that resulted in broken pipes and rusty water flowing from customer taps.
This talk presents the results of an in-depth investigation into the crisis and chronicles how Tucson Water changed its management practices, restored its credibility, ended over pumping of its groundwater, and created a more sustainable water supply. The “lessons learned” from this cautionary tale are applicable to any water utility considering modifying water supplies and/or treatment processes or needing to turn around a public relations crisis. The presentation follows the recent publication of a book under the same title, co-authored by Pearthree and Mike McGuire.
Marie Pearthree has over 38 years of experience in the water industry. She has held a wide variety of positions in consulting engineering, hydrology and water utility management including Deputy Director at Tucson Water and Deputy General Manager at the Central Arizona Project. She received a City of Tucson Public Service Excellence Award in 2003 and the George Warren Fuller Award from the American Water Works Association in 2018. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geology from Oberlin College, a Master’s of Science in Geosciences from the University of Arizona, and is a registered Professional Engineer (Civil).