Explorer staff report

Federal stimulus funds are flowing to Arizona, initially through a project that shall connect two wastewater treatment facilities in the Northwest, and improve the quality of effluent released into the Santa Cruz River.

Last Tuesday, the Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department called attention to its estimated $41.1 million plant interconnect project, linking and improving the Ina Road and Roger Road plants in the first part of a state-mandated regional optimization master plan.

The local department is among the first Arizona water sector entities to receive funding from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Among $10 million in federal funds, $2 million in ARRA money is going toward the project in the form of forgivable principal funds that do not have to be repaid. The other $8 million is in the form of a 3.46 percent interest loan through the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona.

The remainder of project funding comes from $29.3 million in bond authorizations, and cash outlay of $1.8 million, a release said.

The interconnect line construction phase, with a guaranteed maximum price of $25.2 million, consists of installing of a five-mile, 60- and 72-inch gravity sewer pipe parallel to the river that will convey flows from the Roger Road facility service area to the upgraded and expanded Ina Road facility.

When the pipe is in, the wastewater department can "optimize capacity and flow" between the plants, allowing management of 36 million gallons a day of average flows, and peak flows of 81 million gallons a day. Solids can be transported from Roger Road to Ina Road and its solids handling center.

There are 12 construction phases. Anticipated completion is December 2010.

An estimated 170 to 200 construction jobs are being created, among them contractors, sub-contractors, suppliers, engineering firm personnel and consultant positions.

Another 85 to 100 "indirect jobs" are anticipated in the areas of food, shelter and miscellaneous services, the release said.

The project was kicked off at the Ina Road Wastewater Reclamation Facility last Tuesday. Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson, County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry and Deputy County Administrator John Bernal were among the invited guests.

The regional plan is intended to meet new environmental standards for effluent discharges to the Santa Cruz River, specifically by reducing nitrogen and ammonia levels.

It calls for upgrade of the treatment process, and expansion of the Ina Road plant's capacity from 37.5 million gallons per day to 50 mgd by January 2014. The existing, 41 mgd Roger Road facility will be replaced with a new 32 mgd state-of-the-art facility by January 2015.

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