April Lacey, ExpNews@ExplorerNews.com

Nov. 9, 2005 - The Central Arizona Project celebrated the opening of a new Marana office Nov. 3, while talks continued of a potential CAP reservoir in the area.

The reservoir, which would sit near the intersection of Tangerine Road and Interstate-10, would serve two purposes: storing water from the Colorado River for the Northwest and serving as a recreational lake for area residents, said Robert Barrett, public information officer for CAP.

The reservoir, which would be 100 surface acres of water, would also act as a 30-day emergency water supply if the water channels were shut down for maintenance or because of a natural disaster, Barrett said.

Channeling water into the northwest would guarantee a water supply for the area for the next 100 years, said Herb Kai, Marana vice mayor.

Kai and Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup spoke at the opening ceremony of the new office, which provides a workspace for CAP employees who previously worked out of trailers and temporary offices.

The Marana CAP office, 10900 W. Twin Peaks Road, is the only CAP office in the greater Tucson area.

The CAP is an organization that manages the delivery of water from the Colorado River to Arizona by way of a canal.

The United States Bureau of Reclamation is continuing to investigate the possibility of the reservoir, which will take years of planning on the part of the bureau, as well as planning by the towns of Marana and Oro Valley, and Metropolitan Water Company, said Carol Erwin of the bureau.

Officials do not expect to build the reservoir for another five to 10 years, Erwin said.

A major setback in the planning is deciding how the project will be funded, which is a difficult task considering the economic climate of the federal and local governments, Erwin said.

"There are pressures on the federal government that were not there 10 years ago. There are pressures on the regional government that were not there 10 years ago," Erwin said.

Before requesting funds for the reservoir, all water municipalities must work through a range of issues, including environmental factors, cost effectiveness and water treatment, said Erwin and Eric Holler, a bureau program manager.

"We have a whole slew of issues and we have to take them one at a time," Holler said.

CAP water has a higher mineral content than average ground water, and therefore requires more extensive treatment before being deemed safe for drinking purposes, Holler said.

CAP water has twice as many total dissolved solids, also known as TDS, than groundwater.

The bureau will run continue to run studies that test the efficiency of slow sand filtration and reverse osmosis, two types of water treatments that so far have provided positive results, Holler said.

Slow sand filtration is a water treatment process by which water percolates through layers of sand and is biologically cleaned.

Reverse osmosis is a similar filtration process in which the water is pushed through a thin membrane to rid the water of mineral content and salinity, Holler said.

Marana and Oro Valley continue to use groundwater as their main source of water, however the reservoir would allow for the towns to use water from the river, a source continually replenished from rain and snow in the Rocky Mountains, Barrett said.

Of the entire supply of Colorado River water, 47 acre-feet per year are allocated to Marana and 10,105 acre-feet per year are allocated to Oro Valley.

One acre-foot of water contains about 325,851 gallons of water.

For more information, call 575-8100.

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