The Town of Marana’s Water Superintendent Paul Arias, left, and Mark Ostermann, the general manager for WRI Construction, install a fitting on a sludge holding tank at the north side wastewater facility in Marana. The Town recently took over the facility, which was previously operated by Pima County.

Randy Metcalf/The Explorer

After a long battle with Pima County, the Town of Marana officially took over control of the wastewater treatment plant at midnight on Jan. 2.

Town Manager Gilbert Davidson said the midnight turnover was just another way for Pima County to make things as difficult as possible in the dispute over who has the right to control the town’s wastewater services.

Davidson said when Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckleberry sent a letter on Christmas Eve, “We had to scramble to get everything lined up.”

To manage the takeover, the Town of Marana has contracted with Westland Resources, with EUSI serving as a subcontractor.

The six-month contract will cost the town $62,500, plus a 10 percent contingency for project-related expenses, outside services, equipment purchases and allowance.

Town spokesman Rodney Campbell said the contract requires the town to pay Westland the cost plus 10 percent of the subcontractor’s fee, which means if EUSI bills Westland $15,000, the town will have to pay $16,500.

Davidson said contracting with Westland is the most “expeditious way to have a seamless transfer.”

County officials reluctantly turned over control of the north wastewater plan, primarily because of a law passed by the Arizona Legislature last year.

Last April, Gov. Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1171 into law, which allows Marana to provide wastewater services to residents by assuming ownership of the small wastewater treatment facility located just outside town boundaries.

The facility serves about 1,800 customers on the north side of town, which includes Continental Ranch and Dove Mountain.

County officials have also disagreed with the price paid for the treatment facility. The Town will be billed $18 million for the facility, but county officials have estimated it is worth $27 million.

“The Town of Marana set out on a mission to manage our own wastewater, and that’s what we are going to do. Whether the county likes it or not,” Davidson said. “It is not up to them, it is up to our elected officials.”

County officials have also claimed the Town does not have legal authority to operate the wastewater facility because they do not have the proper permits in place.

Davidson disagreed with the assertion, stating they are working under the county’s permit, and will be working with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to secure the required licenses to move forward independently.

There is no timeframe on how long the process with the state will take.

In the meantime, the issue is far from over, as the county and the Town of Marana still have issues to be decided in court.

The Town of Marana and Pima County signed an intergovernmental agreement in 1979 that gave the county permission to provide sewer service in Marana. The town exercised its legal right to end that contract in 2007.

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