Pima County

Pima County has won two statewide 2014 Project of the Year awards from the Arizona Chapter of the American Public Works Association.

The Tres Rios Water Reclamation Facility won in the category of environment, more than $75 million. The Robles Ranch improvements project won in the structures category for small cities/rural communities. 

The awards were presented at the 2014 APWA Arizona Chapter Statewide Conference on Tuesday, July 29, at the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Hotel in Oro Valley.

The $242 million Tres Rios Water Reclamation Facility is the largest construction project completed in Pima County history. Through a close partnership between the Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department, Jacobs Engineering, CH2M HILL and MWH Constructors, the team completed this challenging, complex project on time and within budget while maintaining wastewater service.

The former Ina Road Wastewater Reclamation Facility was a 1970s wastewater treatment plant that required significant upgrades to meet current effluent standards, expand its capacity to 50 million gallons per day, from 37.5 million, and implement modern technology.

Principals of sustainability were employed to reuse and repurpose old facilities while lowering the facilities’ overall energy use and carbon footprint for future generations.

The Santa Cruz River is the receiving stream that accepts the discharge from the Tres Rios facility. Flora and fauna along this stretch of the river benefit from this high-quality effluent, as does the underlying aquifer. A significant focus of this project was to improve the effluent quality primarily through the removal of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus). These improvements have served to further enhance our ability to beneficially use this renewable resource. The improved effluent is clean enough to be used for many types of reuse applications such as fire suppression, open irrigation, aquifer recharge, etc.

In addition, during an extensive archaeological survey of the site, a number of significant artifacts were recovered, preserved, documented and then given to the Arizona State Historic Preservation office. The artifacts date back to 1200 BC and are the oldest documented irrigation system in North America.

The Robles Ranch Improvements addressed a critical need for safe, outside recreation near a historic community center with many after-school programs in Three Points, an economically stressed area. 

The $253,000 project included an outdoor basketball court with lighting, a shaded playground structure, a shade ramada with picnic table, water fountain, walkways and landscaping.

The Friends of Robles Ranch obtained Community Development Block Grants to fund the project. The federal grants were necessary as this very small rural community has very little capital dollars available.

This project required four County departments to work in tandem. The Community Development and Neighborhood Conservation Department awarded and oversaw the federal funding. The Office of Sustainability and Conservation provided required coordination with the State Historical Preservation Office because the community center is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Project Management Office provided technical oversight and management. Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation operates the community center, which was in use throughout construction. The community participated in the effort, helping select the playground equipment installed and theme to suit the historic center.

Design consultant Kimley-Horn & Associates and contractor Durazo Construction’s commitment to the project kept the work in budget, allowing for a last-minute inclusion of a water fountain and adjustable-height basketball backboard, items from the wish list that were expected to be cut from the project.

The project was designed to fill a constrained, flat, dirt area. The site improvements were designed to control water runoff, reduce soil erosion, and provide a usable recreational space with as much shaded play area possible.

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