The three-year-long legal battle between Pima County and Marana over ownership of a small wastewater treatment facility has taken a new turn.

Through lobbying efforts at the state capitol, Marana officials have gotten a law sponsored that would open the door to the town taking over the county-owned Marana Wastewater Reclamation Facility.

The proposed law would enable cities and towns to acquire all or part of a county sewage system and provides the requirements for doing so.

Pima County is the only county in the state that operates a wastewater treatment system.

In response, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry has written a memo to the Pima County Board of Supervisors expressing concerns over the possible implications of the legislation.

"This legislation attempts to accomplish for Marana what they could not do in Maricopa Superior Court," Huckelberry wrote about the bill that was introduced in the state senate Jan. 20.

Huckelberry said the proposed law would cause sewer-rate increases throughout the region, negatively affect economic development efforts, fragment the region's wastewater treatment system, and ignite a series of water wars between municipalities in Southern Arizona.

"One of the larger concerns is that it Balkanizes this regional system," Huckelberry told The Explorer.

Marana officials were unavailable for comment.

Pima County and Marana have been locked in a legal struggle over the small wastewater treatment plant since late 2007. A recent court ruling in the case, which was heard in Maricopa County, held that Pima County had standing to retain ownership of the facility.

A final ruling in the case has not been made.

The bill was sponsored by Sens. Frank Antenori (R-LD 30), Gail Griffin (R-LD 25), Al Melvin (R-LD 26), and Reps. Terri Proud (R-LD 26), Vic Williams (R-LD 26), Peggy Judd (R-LD 25), David Stevens (R-LD25) and Ted Vogt (R-LD 30).

For more on this story, see next week's Explorer.



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