Fathoming Water Episode 7: Christopher T. (Kip) Volpe
Kip Volpe is the Vice President and Treasurer for The Estes Co, a multi-generational, full spectrum Tucson and Arizona real estate development company. Kip oversees the operations of its various related entities including Vail Water Company in his capacity of Vice President. Kip has worked on water related projects with the Arizona Corporation Commission, Central Arizona Project, Department of Environmental Quality and Arizona Department of Water Resources as well as various local agencies.
In this episode Kip Volpe and I talk Wheeling. What is Wheeling you ask? It involves a third party moving water from one place to another, water they do not own, but charge a cost to move through their system. In 2014, Kip negotiated a pioneering Wheeling Agreement between Vail Water Company and Tucson Water and the subsequent approval of a water company rate structure, including a surcharge for direct delivery of CAP to Vail customers, with the Arizona Corporation Commission. Vail was the first private water company in Arizona to have Central Arizona Project water delivered directly to their customers via a third party Wheeling Agreement. In 2015, Vail received a Designation of Assured Water Supply from ADWR that included, again for the first time in history, an inclusion of CAP water via a Wheeling Agreement.
Kip and his Operations Manager Manny Oros were kind enough to give me a tour of the site where Tucson Water’s and Vail Water’s systems connect.
Manny Oros, Vail Water Company’s Operations Manager, in front of the Tucson Water reservoir that is closest to the Vail service area. All the pumps behind him service the Tucson Water customers at the edge of the boundary between the Tucson Water and Vail Water service areas.
This valve is attached to the reservoir above and is the point of contact between Vail’s Water system and the Tucson Water system. Tucson Water owns the reservoir and Vail had the valve installed while the reservoir was full.
The pumps that push the Vail water from the Tucson Water reservoir into the two mile pipeline that runs via gravity to the Vail service area. These pumps were turned on and the groundwater wells were turned off in May 2015. We will check back in to see how much their water table recovers after not pumping for seven months when they do their annual groundwater level reading in January.
Kip is also a member of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council and currently serves as co-chairman of the Tucson Regional Water Coalition, a group of southern Arizona businesses with affiliations to over 25,000 employees and agents. Kip and I talk how business, economic growth and water all depend on each other. Kip feels it is important for businesses to know that the Tucson area has been strategic with its water planning and a fear of water shortage should not stop a business from locating to Tucson.
Kip graduated in 1978 with a B.S. in Accounting from the University of Arizona and received his Certified Public Accountant certificate in 1980. Kip worked with Big 8 and national accounting firms Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co. (now known as KPMG) and Kenneth Leventhal & Company (now known as Ernst & Young) from 1978-82 which provided him with a diverse industry background.