Senate President intervenes in wastewater battle - Tucson Local Media: News

Senate President intervenes in wastewater battle

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Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 4:00 am

The battle over wastewater rights between Pima County and Marana has state lawmakers interested, with Senate President Steve Pierce asking Gov. Jan Brewer to step in.

In a Feb. 1 letter to Brewer, Pierce said Pima County transferred ownership of the Marana Wastewater Treatment facility to the Town of Marana in accordance with Senate Bill 1171, which was passed by lawmakers last year.

The legislation was approved to allow Marana to chart its own course on growth by granting the same freedoms and authorities enjoyed by nearly every other city and town in the state, according to Pierce.

 “Unfortunately, Marana’s efforts and the legislature’s will is being thwarted by Pima County’s ongoing stronghold on power and its determination to maintain control of the region’s growth,” he said. “In spite of the state’s clear insistence that Marana be allowed to operate its own treatment facility, the County, through its influence over the Pima Association of Governments, has refused to grant the Town a 208 plan amendment that would designate the Town as its own designated management agency.”

Pierce said the county is also refusing to transfer technical permits necessary for the Town to make needed modifications to the treatment plant.

Pierce said federal law gives Gov. Brewer the authority to issue the Town of Marana a 208 plan amendment in spite of Pima County’s objections, thus allowing the Town to become the designated management agency of its service area.

“As president of the State Senate, I strongly urge you to exercise your authority and grant the Town of Marana’s application for a 208 plan amendment,” said Pierce. “I also ask that you publicly urge the Pima County Board of Supervisors to transfer the technical permits associated with the Town of Marana’s Wastewater Treatment Facility. Doing so will further the intent of SB 1171, and send a clear message to Pima County that its obstruction will not be accepted.”

Pierce also sent a letter to Henry Darwin, the director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, asking the state agency to investigate “Pima County’s lack of authority to operate a water treatment system.”

Pima County is challenging the state’s passing of SB 1171 in court, claiming it is unconstitutional.

Pima County turned the wastewater plant over to Marana on Jan. 3, but did not turn the county’s permits over with it.

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