Twenty years ago, Queen Creek was just another dot on the Arizona map. Few people knew the Town even existed, and even fewer knew that it had a water company. The truth is, the water company existed well before then. 1954 to be exact.
In 1954, Leo Ellsworth, a prominent farmer in Queen Creek, founded the Queen Creek Water Company. The term "company" isn't quite accurate when describing the state of Queen Creek Water at the time. It would probably best be described as the Queen Creek Water "Agreement." Leo supplied water to 50 or so of the surrounding workers, and they agreed to pay him for the water they used.
Taylor Gardner came to Queen Creek soon after on a job offer from Leo Ellsworth. Taylor would manage the water company and the farmland here in Arizona while Leo was away developing farms in other states like Florida and Georgia. Taylor started running Queen Creek Water in 1954, and a Gardner ran the company for another 54 years.
By 1972, Taylor had acquired 400-500 acres of land near Hunt Highway in Queen Creek and Leo Ellsworth had his eye on Taylor's land. Land in Queen Creek didn't hold much value then, and Taylor saw more value with the water in the wells that Leo owned than with the 400-500 acres of land that he owned. So, they swapped. With a handshake and a gentleman's agreement, Leo had his land and Taylor Gardner was the proud new owner of Queen Creek Water.
Taylor Gardner incorporated Queen Creek Water in 1974. The values of hard work and quality service kept him running the business on his own for many years. Being wrapped up in the day to day duties of keeping the water flowing to his customers, Taylor never had a chance to map out the wells and waterlines that were in place at the time. He kept all of the information in his memory, where it stayed until he died with a shovel in his hand, digging out a meter box in 1985.
Paul Gardner, grandson to Taylor Gardner, grew up following in his grandfather's footsteps. He would often tag along with his grandfather as he checked wells and meters, making sure everything was running as it should.
Paul grew up learning the intricacies of Queen Creek Water. He soon had his very own map of the waterlines and wells in his head, just as his grandfather did. It was only natural that in 1985 when his grandfather died, Paul was chosen to execute the estate and sell the water company to a group of investors. It was then that Paul got fully wrapped up in the company.
Since there had been no maps drawn up, and no plans laid out for future mainlines and wells, the investors that bought the company had nothing to work with. The information existed, but it was all stored in Paul's head. That is when Paul became President of the Queen Creek Water Company, and the future of Queen Creek Water was laid out.
When Paul became president in 1985, Queen Creek Water Company serviced 450 customers. Today, the Water Division serves the water needs of almost 10,800 customers, with more than 50 new customers being added monthly. It was rare for the company to deliver over 7 million gallons in one month to its customers in the early 90s. Now, however, 7 million gallons per day is the norm.
Queen Creek Water Company has come a long way since its inception in 1954. The Town of Queen Creek officially finalized the purchase of the Queen Creek Water Company in April 2008. The total cost of acquisition came to just under $37 million and included bringing on 30 water company employees as Town staff.
With the water utility under Town ownership, Queen Creek can continue to implement its General Plan, which guides development in the community. It is important for the Town to manage this critical resource within the Town limits so the General Plan can be fully implemented.