Council approves bond issuance to fund wastewater expansion - Tucson Local Media: News

Council approves bond issuance to fund wastewater expansion

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Posted: Wednesday, March 15, 2017 4:00 am

The Town of Marana’s planned wastewater plant expansion has been in the works for some time, but now has funding in place to make sure it moves forward. 

During their March 7 meeting, the Marana Town Council approved the sale and execution of up to $46 million bonds to fund the project as well as pay off a prior bond issuance so that debt may be paid off at a lower rate. 

The town has explored various ways to fund the planned $21 million expansion of the town’s wastewater facility in north Marana. With the town linking the Saguaro Bloom community to the sewer system the facility is close to capacity. The expansion will allow the facility to handle up to 1.5 million gallons a day, nearly tripling what it currently handles. The expansion will allow the facility to handle up to 10,000 new homes or businesses in the area.

The council approved an expansion plan that will use conventional activated sludge, a process which uses bacteria and biological matter to break down waste and help purify the water. The newer process will utilize two separate basins that can treat up to 750,000 gallons per day. The design allows for further expansion, with room for additional basins. 

Without expansion the town would not be allowed to have any growth in the northern part of town.

“With the continued

growth in north Marana, with all of the new residential construction and some of the new commercial construction going on in the area, we are going to be at a point where we have to build a new plant if we want to see homebuilding and business development be completed,” said Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson.  

Marana acquired the facility after a legal battle with Pima County and expansion was always expected with how fast the area was growing. 

“The town always knew they were going to have to expand this plant as our planning numbers in the housing and commercial development increased in northern Marana,” said Marana Utilities Director John Kmiec.

The facility was already equipped for expansion and was one of the reasons the town fought to take over the facility. Although they knew expansion was going to happen sooner rather than later, expanding upon the existing infrastructure was always a preferred option over having to build one from scratch, which would include all the pipes and infrastructure going to homes and businesses.

There are other advantages to the new system. According to Kmiec, the water from the new process will be pure enough that they will be able to use it in the recharge basins that will help the town get 100 percent of the recharge credits from the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Currently fully treated water from the plant is piped into a wash and has created a wetlands area to the west of the plant. 

The plant services most of the homes north of Tangerine Road west of I-10 up to the Marana Road and Kirby Road area.

“We appreciate the town making this investment and putting the utility department on course to service the needs of a growing community,” Kmiec said. “Marana has a lot of aspirations and we want to make sure from a water and wastewater viewpoint we are meeting those goals.”

Although the wastewater facility and subsequent expansion have been quite costly for the town, it cost nearly $21 million to acquire the facility, it was seen by town officials as a needed expense. According to Mayor Ed Honea, several potential projects in north Marana were rejected by the county, who cited pressure on the wastewater system. 

“We wanted to be in control of our own destiny,” Honea said. “We wanted to be able to decide what was best for Marana.”

Although the wastewater business has been expensive, the funds generated by expansion in north Marana made it something the town felt they had to do. 

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