After successfully reaching an agreement with Pima County to assume control of the Marana Wastewater Reclamation Facility, the Town of Marana is planning $1 million in efficiency upgrades to the plant in the 2013/2014 fiscal year.
The agreement between the two municipalities that was first tabled in January, was contingent on Marana voters supporting a town-owned and operated wastewater treatment facility in the March election.
Prior to that election, during the town’s lengthy wastewater litigation battle with Pima County, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled Marana did not have the authority to own and operate its own wastewater facility due to a 1988 ballot question that was considered too vague. That meant the town had to again turn to its voters for authorization.
Voters this election season gave that authorization by nearly a 3-to-1 margin.
The transfer of ownership is now scheduled to take place sometime in July, and the town is currently in the process of working on a municipal bond structure that will pay for the facility’s remaining debt owed to Pima County – roughly $16.7 million.
The bond will also cover the approximate $4 million in legal expenses incurred by the town during its litigation battle with the county, as well as the $1 million in efficiency improvements.
The bond, which should be finalized by the takeover date, will be repaid through impact fees issued to new developments.
Three major improvements are planned to bring the facility to its maximum operating capacity, according to John Kmiec, the town utilities director.
The planned upgrades include improvements to the influent pump station, which controls volume capacity, enhancements to the facility’s Biolac system, which aerates and cleanses water flow, and an improved sludge dewatering process, which will save the town money when paying for haul-away sludge due to decreased water weight.
“Essentially, these upgrades will take the plan as it is and add more components to prepare for the larger plan envisioned down the road,” he said.
The improvements will provide further health and safety benefits to town residents, as well as increased water options for future developments.
“We’re still at the lower volume of water than this plant is capable of,” said Kmiec.
An increased flow will prove important when considering the town’s plans for future economic development.
“We want to ensure we are ahead of our growth curb,” said Kmiec. “We are building these capital improvement plans to meet the expected rise in economic development. We want to be a full service provider to our residents, and we intend to be.”
The Marana Wastewater Reclamation Facility is located at 14393 N. Luckett Road. The facility currently produces about 250,000 gallons of sewage per day. It currently serves about 1,800 north Marana residents, a number that is expected to grow in the coming months and years.